Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer overview

You are at the center of everything we do at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Here, we surround you with a team of specialists who work together closely to provide expertly targeted, complete care and compassionate support throughout your treatment and beyond.

We guide you every step of the way, combining our deep clinical expertise in renal cell carcinoma and other kidney cancers with a commitment to meet your unique needs.

Why choose SCCA?

  • Comprehensive kidney cancer treatment
    Our doctors are experts in the full spectrum of complex treatments kidney cancer may require, including robot-assisted surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The Kidney Cancer Multispecialty Clinic brings a complete team together to evaluate you in a single day if you have metastatic disease.
  • Kidney cancer clinical trials
    To give you access to the most innovative therapies, SCCA unites the leading researchers and cancer specialists of Fred Hutch and UW Medicine so you can take part in kidney cancer clinical studies not available everywhere. 
  • Advanced diagnosis and treatment planning
    We have a new test called OncoScan CGAT to identify genetic changes in people with kidney cancer that help diagnose the disease, understand the risk of recurrence and outlook for survival and guide therapy decisions.
  • A national leader in cancer care
    SCCA is the leading cancer treatment center in the region and among the top nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report. 
  • NCI comprehensive cancer center
    We are a comprehensive cancer center, a designation from the National Cancer Institute that reflects our scientific leadership and the depth and breadth of our research to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Dr. Scott Tykodi from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance talks about the different kinds of treatment for Kidney Cancer.
Second opinions

If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer or a new kidney tumor, we recommend considering a second opinion before selecting a course of treatment. Getting a second opinion is a valuable way to verify facts about your condition that are important to your treatment decisions, such as:

  • How likely the tumor is to be cancerous
  • The clinical stage of the cancer (your doctor’s best estimate of the extent of your disease, based on the results of your exam, lab tests and imaging studies)
  • Whether you can have surgery that spares as much normal kidney as possible

A second opinion may give you access to new treatments, new surgical techniques or therapies available only in clinical trials. 

How a second opinion can help

If you have received a kidney cancer diagnosis, or you have been told that you have a kidney tumor, kidney mass, renal tumor, renal mass or complex renal cyst, a second opinion makes sense for the following reasons:

Some tumors are small and have a good chance of being benign (not cancerous).

A treatment option that we consider more often these days is known as active surveillance, where these small kidney tumors are observed. We usually prescribe repeated imaging studies to check for any growth of the tumors.

Decision-making for kidney cancer that has spread can be complex.

Patients are often trying to decide between having surgery to remove the kidney with the main tumor or immediately starting medications to treat cancer cells throughout the body. Many patients with metastatic kidney cancer are candidates for clinical trials. A second opinion would help you gather more information to help make this complex decision.

Small tumors can usually be treated by partial nephrectomy.

This means removing the tumor and sparing the normal kidney tissue around the tumor. There are studies that suggest that not enough patients with small kidney tumors get this important surgery.

State-of-the-art options are available for kidney tumors.

Some of these options include clinical trials of new medications for metastatic kidney cancer or kidney cancer at high risk of metastasizing, robotic surgery to speed your recovery and newer therapies to freeze small tumors. We are a referral center for interleukin-2, or IL-2, (Proleukin) treatment, not available everywhere.

Changing treatment regimens is not always easy or possible.

Once you start a course of treatment, it’s sometimes hard to change to something else.

Request a second opinion

Find a urologic oncologist you trust and a course of treatment you are comfortable with. If you weren’t diagnosed at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), consider requesting an appointment with one of our many kidney cancer specialists, who are all University of Washington faculty members. 

If you received your diagnosis at SCCA, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about getting a second opinion. They’ll be more than happy to provide you with a list of recommended doctors.

Second opinions

If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer or a new kidney tumor, we recommend considering a second opinion before selecting a course of treatment. Getting a second opinion is a valuable way to verify facts about your condition that are important to your treatment decisions.

Treatment

People with kidney cancer have more treatment options than ever before. Although the most common treatment is still surgery for localized kidney cancer, many new immunotherapies and targeted therapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in recent years to treat metastatic kidney cancer.

Providers

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.

Clinical trials

To give you access to the most innovative therapies, SCCA unites the leading researchers and cancer specialists of Fred Hutch and UW Medicine so you can take part in kidney cancer clinical studies not available everywhere.

Resources

There are many resources online for learning about your disease, as well as organizations that provide community and support for your cancer diagnosis. Health educators at the SCCA Patient and Family Resource Center have compiled a list of trusted sources to help you get started.