• Treatments for Kidney Cancer

    While standard protocols have been established for the treatment of virtually all cancers, physicians will often modify them for their individual patients. These modifications are based on many factors including the patient’s age, general health, desired results, and the specific characteristics of the cancer. Since the treatments described in this report represent the standard therapeutic approaches, your physician may not strictly adhere to them.
    The goal of treatment is to eliminate the cancer or, if this is not possible, to limit its further growth and control the symptoms. The treatment and management of kidney cancer may involve surgery, biological therapy, and radiation therapy.
    Surgery is the primary, curative treatment. Removing all or part of the kidney, in a procedure called a nephrectomy , is the therapy of choice for stage I, II, and III renal cell cancers. Additional chemotherapy or radiation is not normally recommended after surgery if there is no sign of remaining cancer. Surgery may also be used to remove cancerous lesions that have spread to other organs. This is usually done to control symptoms, not to cure the disease.
    If you cannot have surgery due to other health conditions, radiation and arterial embolization may slow the disease’s progression. Arterial embolization is a treatment to block blood flow. However, neither of these treatments provides a cure for kidney cancer.
    Radiation and chemotherapy are typically not as effective for kidney cancer as for many other types of cancer. A biological therapy, called interleukin 2 (aldesleukin), may be recommended to treat kidney cancer that has spread. About 15% people treated with interleukin 2 have some shrinkage of their cancer.
    Also, a new form of medications called targeted therapy has shown some progress in controlling advanced kidney cancer. This medications block cellular pathways controlling tumor growth. Recently, medicines called sunitinib and sorafenib have been shown to significantly increase progression-free survival, and to likely increase overall survival. A drug called temsirolimus also improves progression-free and overall survival.
    SurgeryRadiation therapyChemotherapyOther: biological therapyOther: hormonal therapyLifestyle changesManaging the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment
    Existing treatment protocols have been established and continue to be modified through clinical trials. These research studies are essential to determine whether or not new treatments are both safe and effective. Since highly effective treatments for many cancers remain unknown, numerous clinical trials are always underway around the world. You may wish to ask your doctor if you should consider participating in a clinical trial. You can find out about clinical trials at the government website ClinicalTrials.gov .


    American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp?level=0 .

    Cashen A, Wildes T. The Washington Manual subspecialty consult series; Hematology and Oncology Subspeciality Consult . Second edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

    Kidney Cancer Association website. Available at: http://www.kidneycancerassociation.org/ .

    National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/ .

    Revision Information

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