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The Onconephrology Program at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplants and CAR-T therapy can have a variety of side effects. The kidneys can be affected by these treatments. As a result, kidney disease is an increasingly common complication seen in cancer patients. An evolving medical subspecialty called onconephrology has emerged to address all aspects of the treatment of kidney-related complications in cancer patients.

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Why Is Onconephrology Important?

Onconephrology is a rapidly growing subspecialty designed to educate and support the clinical, educational and research needs at the intersection of oncology and nephrology. This subspecialty is an increasingly important part of modern cancer care for the following reasons:

  • Increase in kidney complications and failure. Nephrologists (kidney doctors) at large cancer centers increasingly encounter different types of kidney disease in cancer patients who have undergone conventional chemotherapy, immune therapy, targeted therapy, hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) and other cancer treatments.
  • Advances in the field of oncology. A growing number of novel chemotherapy drugs and associated clinical trials benefit greatly from input from onconephrologists because of their effects on the kidneys. The emergence of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy and immunotherapy have further increased the need for specialized kidney care in cancer patients.
  • People with cancer living longer. As survival rates continue to improve, people with cancer may experience problems such as residual chronic kidney disease, hypertension and electrolyte abnormalities that benefit from evaluation and treatment by physicians with expertise in the nuances of kidney problems in cancer patients.

What Sets UH’s Onconephrology Program Apart from Others?

Leader in Onconephrology Care

Established in 2018, our Onconephrology program was one of the first such programs in the country.

Outstanding Inpatient Experience

UH Seidman Cancer Center was one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to offer 24/7 specialized kidney care for hospitalized cancer patients.

Clinical Leadership

Program director, Arash Rashidi, MD is an executive board member and past president of the American Society of Onconephrology (ASON), which sets national guidelines for the field.

National Excellence

UH Seidman Cancer Center is one of the best cancer hospitals in the U.S. for over 20 years by U.S. News & World Report.

Cancer Research

UH Seidman Cancer Center is part of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center – one of an elite group of 52 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country.

Areas of Onconephrology Care

The onconephrologists at UH Seidman Cancer Center provide outstanding specialized care in the following areas:

  • Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) or Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Patients with Cancer
  • CKD from Total or Partial Nephrectomy (Surgical Removal of One or Both Kidneys)
  • AKI or CKD from Paraproteinemias, Multiple Myeloma or Amyloidosis
  • Kidney Injury Due to Chemotherapy, Targeted Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and Stem Cell Transplant
  • Severe Fluid and Electrolyte Abnormalities, Including:
    • Hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood)
    • Hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood)
    • Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium levels in the blood)
    • Hypercalcemia (high level of calcium in the blood)
    • Acid-base abnormalities
  • Dosing and Timing of Chemotherapy in Patients with AKI and CKD

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When Should a Cancer Patient See an Onconephrologist?

An onconephrologist will typically be consulted by a medical oncologist or gynecologic oncologist if testing indicates potential kidney problems. For example, if a patient’s electrolyte levels (sodium, potassium, magnesium or phosphorus) become too low or too high, kidney malfunction may be the cause. Working together, the medical oncologist will continue to treat the cancer while an onconephrologist treats the kidney disease related to the cancer or cancer treatment.

Solid tumors, multiple myeloma and leukemia are the most common types of cancer for which onconephrologists provide kidney care. However, these specialists may be called in to manage kidney care for nearly any type of cancer or cancer treatment.