By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The National Kidney Foundation is getting the word out about a less severe option for those with kidney cancer, analogous to the lumpectomy for breast cancer.

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Decades behind a change in addressing breast cancer, kidney cancer may be treated by removing only the affected part of the organ.

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“We’ve done work over the last decade showing the virtues of saving the healthy part of the kidney for the treatment of a small kidney tumor, not all of which are highly malignant. So our concern is healthy kidney function is being sacrificed unnecessarily, over-treated if you will,” says Kidney surgeon Paul Russo of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.

Dr. Russo says the partial nephrectomy, as it’s called, is more technically-challenging than the radical (remove it all) nephrectomy, and has some extra potential complications.

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But he says the long-term outlook is actually better, the more kidney function a patient can keep.