Matthew Lofland

Kidney Cancer Patient Stories

Kidney Cancer, da Vinci® Robotic-Assisted Surgery
Matt Lofland

At 43, Matt Lofland worked out regularly to stay fit and active. So when he noticed some back pain on his left side, he didn’t think much of it. “I figured I just twisted my back when I was running,” he recalled.  But the pain persisted, along with numbness down his left leg.

A routine X-ray for a sports injury revealed a tumor on Matt's kidney.

“I attributed the symptoms to getting older and just not bouncing back from exercise the same way I used to.” Matt's doctor sent him to a pain management clinic, where the physician ordered an X-ray at a local hospital near his home in Souderton. While the test revealed nothing amiss with his vertebrae other than the natural progression of age, there was something suspicious in Matt's right kidney. “And that’s how I found out I had cancer. It was a lucky coincidence that the test uncovered it. I’d had no symptoms or history of kidney cancer in my family. I always felt in touch with my body. This really took me by surprise.”

Matt, who oversees the operations and service model for a Doylestown investment firm, had an honest discussion with his family doctor, who referred him to a urologist.  “He took one look at the CAT scan and said I’d be best served by going to Fox Chase Cancer Center. He was very direct.  He told us he could do the surgery but there was a chance he’d have to take the whole kidney. That started bringing into perspective just how serious this was. I was worried.” 

The urologist made an appointment for Matt with Alexander Kutikov, MD, a specialist in robotic partial nephrectomy surgery for patients with kidney cancer.  This highly specialized surgery is minimally invasive and designed to preserve as much kidney tissue and function as possible. Performed laparoscopically, it also reduces blood loss and allows for quicker healing and less downtime for the patient.

Matt felt reassured by Dr. Kutikov’s knowledge and expertise. 

During the August 2011 consultation, Dr. Kutikov explained all the possible scenarios to Matt and his partner. Matt felt reassured by Dr. Kutikov’s knowledge and expertise. “Dr. Kutikov was doing the most technologically advanced surgery possible.  He looked at me as an individual, and didn’t just talk in broad terms,” he recalled. “I found his approach very calming. He clearly said, ‘This is what we’re going to do for YOU, with your particular type of cancer.’ He explained what his recommendation was, and why it was the best option for me.” Best case, Matt’s tumor would be removed and his kidney function spared; worst case, he’d lose his kidney. “But he told me he was pretty confident that he could save my kidney and leave good, healthy margins. That really reassured me.”

Although he was encouraged by friends to get a second opinion, Matt felt confident with Dr. Kutikov’s approach and moved forward with the surgery scheduled for the last Friday in October.  The surgery was a success and Matt was home by Sunday.  His tumor was encapsulated, meaning the cancer hadn’t spread and Matt’s kidney was spared. Even better, he wouldn’t need any follow-up treatment. Because he was otherwise healthy, Matt was able to return to work three weeks later.

"The attention and care I received at Fox Chase was amazing."

Matt’s three days of surgery and recovery time at Fox Chase was the first time he’d ever been in a hospital. “The attention and care I received at Fox Chase was amazing. Everyone was very caring and compassionate.  I went home on Sunday, and was back to work within three weeks.” The diagnosis was Grade 2, Stage I kidney cancer. “Dr. Kutikov said if I had to get cancer, this was the one to have.”

Like many fellow cancer survivors, Matt feels that cancer left him with a changed perspective. “I was just going along thinking I was going to live forever. Cancer forces you to understand that you’re not immortal. It’s such a cliché to say it, but this was really my wake up call moving forward in life.”