Treatments for Kidney Cancer
En Español (Spanish Version)

While guidelines have been created to treat 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 features of the cancer. Since the following treatments represent the standard approaches, your physician may not strictly follow 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.

Also, a new form of medications called targeted therapy has shown some progress in controlling advanced kidney cancer. These 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.

About kidney cancer. Kidney Cancer Association website. Available at: . Updated January 29, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.

Kidney cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: . Accessed June 20, 2013.

Kidney cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: . Accessed June 20, 2013.

Last Reviewed May 2014

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