Watchful waiting works for some kidney cancers

There's no scare quite like a cancer scare -- and when you're told you have a kidney tumor, it's only natural to want the thing taken out.

But don't rush into a decision on this one, because many common kidney tumors may not need treatment at all, they might just need watchful waiting. And for seniors, surgery could be far more dangerous than the tumor itself.

Just 3 percent of seniors with kidney tumors of 1.5 inches in diameter or less die of them within five years, according to a new study of 7,148 seniors with exactly those types of tumors.

That's 3 percent total -- whether they have surgery to remove the tumor, or just let it be.

But while the tumor is unlikely to kill you either way, you can't say the same about surgery. It often means taking out part or even the entire kidney along with the tumor -- putting you at risk of infection, kidney disease, kidney failure, heart problems, and death.

As a result, patients who leave the tumor alone for watching waiting are actually 63 percent less likely to die and 50 less likely to suffer serious heart problems over three years than patients who have surgery, according to the study presented at a recent American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.

Of course, it's one thing to live with a tumor. It's quite another to live with a tumor and not worry about it -- because once you know it's there it's hard not to be concerned.

That's why watchful waiting with any suspected cancer -- kidney or otherwise -- should always be combined with a nutritional approach that can help slow its growth and ensure that your harmless tumor remains that way.

A holistic physician can help you choose the best options for your needs. And for complete natural cancer care in the Southern California area -- whether you choose surgery or watchful waiting -- make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.