Roger Grooms

Kidney Cancer Patient Stories

Benign Kidney Tumor (Oncocytoma)
Roger Grooms

In February 2011, Roger Grooms had his annual checkup with his internist. A routine blood test revealed increased creatinine levels, which can indicate a problem with the kidney. Further testing uncovered a four centimeter mass on Roger’s kidney. He met with a doctor in Fairfax, Virginia, near his home. “The doctor indicated that I had a large tumor, in a very difficult position, on the back of my right kidney,” recalled Roger. “He called it kidney cancer because 95 percent of the time, that’s what it is. He also suggested that due to its size, the tumor had probably spread. My next step was surgery to remove the entire kidney.”

An Internet search kept landing on the name: Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Fortunately, the doctor told Roger that a partial nephrectomy (surgery to remove the tumor and salvage the organ and its function) was a possibility, but admitted that he did not have the expertise to perform the procedure. Roger and his wife, Susie, decided to research their options and get another opinion. Susie, an attorney for the Navy, likes to do research. On her computer, she went to the Google search bar and typed “Kidney Cancer Success Stories.” The name Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, at Fox Chase Cancer Center, came up again and again.

“Like I said, Susie likes to research so she went on to learn that Dr. Uzzo graduated from Cornell Medical School and was well-known in the field of kidney surgery,” said Roger. He made an appointment and traveled to Philadelphia to meet Dr. Uzzo.

Roger Grooms

Roger and his wife, Susie, just six months after his kidney surgery.

Dr. Uzzo explained that while a partial nephrectomy is more challenging than a total nephrectomy, he was confident that he could do it. “That’s all we needed to hear,” Roger added. “When we arrived at the hospital, we told the staff we were there to see Dr. Uzzo. Each one responded by saying, ‘Oh, Dr. Uzzo, he is the best in the country.’” The Grooms’ met Dr. Uzzo, his fellows and his physician assistant. “We immediately recognized the difference in the knowledge and the level of care provided by these professionals.”

Dr. Uzzo explained that there are several types of tumors associated with the kidney.  Most are malignant and others are benign. The least threatening tumor is called an oncocytoma, but unfortunately there is currently no way to tell for sure on any available scans.  Based on the outer edges of the tumor, it looked to be contained to the kidney.

“We loved his confidence and scheduled my surgery with Dr. Uzzo.

“We loved his confidence and scheduled my surgery with Dr. Uzzo. He does not disappoint!” Roger said. He and Susie returned to Virginia briefly and returned for the surgery and  a several day stay in the hospital. Susie stayed at Coventry House, an apartment building owned and operated by Fox Chase for the use of out of town families.

Dr. Uzzo performed a partial nephrectomy, removing the tumor on Roger’s right kidney. He was able to save the kidney, and most importantly, its function. This allowed Roger to resume his active lifestyle.

One day after surgery, at 6:08am on a Sunday morning, Dr. Uzzo and his colleagues walked in to see Roger. “I had just seen them the night before and jokingly asked if they had lives,” he said.

They explained to Roger that they all wanted to be present to share the good news – the tumor was benign. It was an oncocytoma after all which made saving his kidney all the sweeter."

After recovering, Roger returned to Virginia, where he had follow-up testing performed. The radiologist commented that the internal work in his kidney and the incision were “beautiful.” She raved about the work performed by Dr. Uzzo. 

“As a patient, I really feel I benefited from the team approach at Fox Chase,” shared Roger. “From the doctors, to the assistants to the nurses – they were all fantastic.”

"It's all about finding the right doctor." 

Dr. Uzzo explained that while many patients are understandably frightened from a diagnosis of kidney cancer, they may believe that somehow removing the entire kidney is more "curative." Data from Fox Chase and other cancer centers around the world demonstrate this is not the case and indeed most kidneys can and should be preserved, as in Roger's case.  "It's all about finding the right doctor," added Roger. 

Today, Roger is back at work in commercial and residential real estate and property management. He and Susie have two children, Amy and Will. Amy followed her father’s footsteps and graduated from Virginia Tech and started her career at IBM. Their son, Will, is a high school senior in the fall 2012.