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Partial nephrectomy, where the part of the kidney containing the tumour is removed by surgery, is not possible for all kidney cancer tumours. This sometimes results in some planned partial nephrectomies becoming radical nephrectomies where the whole kidney is removed. This is uncommon and occurs in less than 5% of cases.
The researchers in this study looked at 168 cases of where a partial nephrectomy was converted to a radical nephrectomy. Most of the time, this was done because the tumour was found to be larger than thought from the scans and, therefore a higher stage, or it was difficult to remove the tumour with a clear margin of tissue without cancer cells surrounding it (a negative margin). The location of the tumour within the kidney also affect the conversion from partial to radical nephrectomy.
Although conversion from partial to radical nephrectomy is uncommon, this study suggests that factors such as tumour location may predict the risk of conversion.