Discharge Instructions for Cancer of the Kidney

Discharge Instructions for Cancer of the Kidney

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Discharge Instructions for Cancer of the Kidney

You have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the kidney. Surgery is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also used. The tips on this sheet will help you know how to care for yourself after surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Home care after surgery

Here’s what to do at home after surgery for kidney cancer.

Incision care

  • Shower as desired. But don’t swim or use a bathtub or hot tub until your doctor says it’s okay.

  • Keep your incision clean and dry.

  • Wash your incision gently with mild soap and warm water. Pat it dry. Avoid scrubbing the incision.


  • Don’t worry if you feel more tired than usual. Fatigue and weakness are common for a few weeks after this surgery.

  • Listen to your body. If an activity causes pain, stop.

  • Limit your activity to short walks. Gradually increase your pace and distance as you feel able.

  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as mowing the lawn, using a vacuum cleaner, or playing sports.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for 4 weeks.

  • Don’t drive until you are free of pain and no longer taking opioid pain medications. This may take 2–4 weeks.


  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

  • Avoid constipation.

    • Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

    • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day unless your doctor tells you to limit fluids.

    • Use a laxative or a mild stool softener if your doctor says it’s okay.

Home care after chemotherapy

Here’s what to do at home following chemotherapy for kidney cancer. 

Prevent mouth sores

Many people get mouth sores during chemotherapy. So, don’t be discouraged if you do, even if you are following all your doctor’s instructions. Do the following to help prevent mouth sores or to ease discomfort.

  • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush after every meal.

  • Don’t use dental floss if your platelet count is below 50,000. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if this is the case.

  • Use an oral swab or special soft toothbrush if your gums bleed during regular brushing.

  • Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes.

  • If you can’t tolerate regular methods, use salt and baking soda to clean your mouth. Mix 1 teaspoon(s) of salt and 1 teaspoon(s) of baking soda into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Swish and spit.

  • Let your doctor know if your throat is sore. Watch your mouth and tongue for white patches. This may be a sign of a fungal infection, a common side effect of chemotherapy. Be sure to tell your doctor about these patches. Medication can be prescribed to help you fight a fungal infection.

Manage other side effects

  • Try to exercise. Exercise keeps you strong and keeps your heart and lungs active. Walk as much as you can without becoming dizzy or weak.

  • Remember, many patients feel sick and lose their appetites during treatment. Eat small meals several times a day to keep your strength up.

    • Choose bland foods with little taste or smell if you are reacting strongly to food.

    • Be sure to cook all food thoroughly. This kills bacteria and helps you avoid infection.

    • Eat foods that are soft. They are less likely to cause stomach irritation.

    • Stock up on easy-to-prepare foods.

    • Eat foods high in protein and calories.

    • Drink plenty of water and other fluids, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.

    • Ask your doctor before taking any vitamins.

  • Keep clean. During treatment your body can’t fight germs very well.

    • Take short baths or showers with warm water. Avoid very hot or cold water.

    • Use moisturizing soap. Treatment can make your skin dry.

    • Apply moisturizing lotion several times a day to help relieve dry skin.

Home care after radiation therapy

Here’s what to do at home following radiation therapy for kidney cancer.

Skin care 

  • Don’t scrub or use soap on the treated area.

  • Ask your therapy team which lotion to use.

  • Avoid sun on the treated area. Ask your therapy team about using a sunscreen.

  • Don’t remove ink marks unless your radiation therapist says it’s okay. Don’t scrub or use soap on the marks when you wash. Let water run over them and pat them dry.

  • Protect your skin from heat or cold. Avoid hot tubs, saunas, heating pads, and ice packs.

  • Wear soft, loose clothing to avoid rubbing your skin.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor.

When to seek medical care

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or chills

  • Signs of infection around the incision (redness, drainage, warmth, pain)

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increased pain

  • Noticeable decrease in urine output

  • Blood in your urine

  • Persistent diarrhea