Posted 3/8/2017 8:56 AM (GMT -6)
I was in your spouse's situation a few years ago. I went in for a routine physical exam with my primary physician. In the normal course of lab tests, it was found that I had microscopic amounts of blood in my urine. My doc referred me for a CT scan and it came back with those same words.....suspicious mass. Fortunately, my doctor is very, very good at knowing what he doesn't know, so he referred me to Stanford Medical Center and the Urological Oncology Clinic there. They did a separate CT and verified that there was a 1.5 cm solid lesion on my right kidney. The urologist there recommended monitoring the lesion, as often times, they turn out not to be malignant. This was December, 2013.
The lesion stayed pretty much the same until April, 2016, when an ultrasound indicated that it may have grown to 1.8 cm. Given that it changed, the urologist felt it was time to treat it. So, he offered ablation, where small needles are inserted into the lesion and it's either cooked or frozen, or surgery. He recommended the surgery, as it has a much higher positive outcome and he sad that my age (I was 60 at the time) and my overall excellent health meant that I would endure the surgery without problems.
So, in June, 2016, I went into the hospital and had a robotic assisted, laparoscopic partial nephrectomy. In other words, they used a robot to assist them in a minimally invasive surgery that cut out a small part of my kidney. I arrived at the hospital at 11:30 AM on June 22nd and I was released on June 23rd at 1:30PM, so I was physically in the hospital for 26 hours. There was little post-op pain and I needed no pain meds. The pathology report showed that it was chromophobe renal cell carcinoma, a fairly rare form of kidney cancer. Luckily, it rarely, if ever, spreads; and it rarely, if ever, recurs. I had my first scan post-operation this past January, along with a chest X-Ray and both were negative. The surgeon said I would get a scan in six months and if that's all clear, we'd switch to a scan and X-Ray once a year for a while, but he saw no reason to think that it will return.
There are a few things you should know and do right now. You've already done the first.....get an appointment with a urologist. The second thing to do is NOT go searching through the internet. There is so much conflicting information that it will drive you nuts. I've been there, done that, and, yeah, I was nuts to begin with, but that made me nutsier.
It's important to note that the mass on your spouse's kidney is very small. A few years ago, the scanning technology wouldn't even have picked it up. It's also important to know that, unlike even a few years ago, hearing the words kidney cancer is not tantamount to receiving a death sentence. Both surgical and drug-related treatments have allowed even people with Stage IV kidney cancer to lead a relatively normal life.
If I may make another suggestion. This web-site is good for certain types of medical conditions. On this particular site for kidney disease, it seems that the vast majority of people are here for information on chronic kidney conditions or kidney stones, not for kidney cancer. I belong to another group on a website for cancer survivors and they have a thriving group on their kidney cancer page. Hopefully, this site will let me post the link:
Yes, it's scary, but in your spouse's situation, I think it's very, very treatable and there's no reason to think that your spouse won't be around to irritate you for a very very long time.