Kidney Cancer

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Treatment Options

Dr. Scott Tykodi describes treatment options for kidney cancer

Everyone’s cancer is different, as are their circumstances, preferences, and beliefs. A treatment that works well for someone else may not be right for you.

The treatment your Seattle Cancer Care Alliance doctors recommend will depend on the type and stage of your kidney cancer, and other factors, such as your general health, potential side effects of treatment, and the probability of extending life or relieving symptoms.

The main types of treatment for kidney cancer are surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, or a combination of these.

Treatment options vary based on the stage of disease.

  • Stages I, II, and III: Surgery is the common option.
  • Stage IV: Targeted therapy, biologic/immunotherapy, clinical studies, and sometimes surgery (depending on how far your cancer has spread and your general health) are options.

Ablation

If your tumor is small (stage I) or if you are not a candidate for surgery, your doctor may recommend ablation, which uses intense heat (radiofrequency) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to destroy kidney tumors.


Surgery

This is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. There are several different surgical procedures your doctor may use to treat your cancer.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies were developed to specifically target gene or protein associated with cancer growth. They are relatively new for treating renal cell carcinoma and have a more focused mechanism of action than chemotherapy.

Biologic Therapy (Immunotherapy)

Biologic therapy (immuotherapy) boosts your body's immune system to fight against and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Until the development of targeted agents, immunotherapy was the most common first-line treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Renal cell carcinoma does not respond well to chemotherapy, but may be used in some instances. Radiation therapy may be used when cancer has spread to the brain or bone.

Pain Control

Pain is a concern for some patients with advanced kidney cancer. It is important to let your doctor know about any pain you have.

Supportive Care

Supportive care treats cancer-related symptoms, often when the cancer treatments themselves offer little help.