The most common treatment for kidney cancer is with surgery to remove all or part of the kidney. However, your treatment will depend on the stage of your disease, your general health, your age, and other factors.
Surgery is most common treatment for kidney cancer—most people with early stage cancer (stages 1, 2, and 3) can be cured with surgery.
In a partial nephrectomy, the tumor or the part of the kidney with the tumor is removed to leave behind as much of the kidney as possible
In a radical nephrectomy, the entire kidney is removed. If needed, the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes may also be removed.
Ask your doctor about the surgical approach that is best for you:
- Open (traditional surgery with a long incision)
- Laparoscopic (surgery done with a video camera and thin instruments for smaller incisions)
- Robotic (laparoscopic surgery done with the help of a robot)
Thermal ablation kills the tumor by burning or freezing and is most often used for small tumors in people who are not good candidates for nephrectomy surgery
Active surveillance is used if a small tumor is less than 4 centimeters (1.5 inches)
Chemotherapy and radiation
Forms of chemotherapy and radiation used in other forms of cancer are not usually effective treatments for most forms of kidney cancer
Advanced or recurrent kidney cancer treatment
For people with advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, treatment with a drug may be recommended along with surgery, or instead of surgery. Some of these drugs are given to you as a pill that you take by mouth; others are given as an injection. Much progress has been made in recent years, and people with advanced kidney cancer are living much longer than ten years ago.
- Medicine is often used for advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or where surgery cannot be done.
- Immunotherapy uses the body’s defense system (immune system) to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells
- Monoclonal antibodies attack a specific part of cancer cells
- Checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells
- Vaccines give an overall boost to the immune system
- Anti-angiogenic therapies reduce the blood supply to a tumor to slow or stop its growth
- Targeted therapies directly inhibit the growth of the cancer