There are various treatment choices for kidney cancer. Which may work best
for you? It depends on a number of factors. These include the type, size,
location, and stage of your cancer. Factors also include your age, overall
health, and what side effects you'll find acceptable.
Learning about your treatment options
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may
also want to know how you'll feel and function after treatment, and
if you'll have to change your normal activities.
The health care provider is the best person to answer your questions. He
or she can tell you what your treatment choices are, how successful they're
expected to be, and what the risks and side effects are. Your health care
provider may advise a specific treatment. Or he or she may offer more
than 1, and ask you to decide which one you'd like to use. It can
be hard to make this decision. It is important to take the time you need
to make the best decision.
Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your health care
provider about how much time you can take to explore your options. You
may want to get another opinion before deciding on your treatment plan.
In fact, some insurance companies may require a second opinion. In addition,
you may want to involve your family and friends in this process.
Understanding the goals of treatment for kidney cancer
Treatment may control or cure the kidney cancer. It can also improve your
quality of life by helping to control the symptoms of the disease. The
goal of kidney cancer treatment is to do 1 or more of these things:
Remove the primary kidney cancer tumor or other tumors
Kill or stop the growth or spread of kidney cancer cells
Prevent or delay the cancer's return
Ease symptoms of the cancer, such as pain or pressure on organs
Types of treatment for kidney cancer
Treatment options include:
Surgery. Surgery to remove the kidney is called a nephrectomy. Surgery is used to
remove the kidney with the tumor and any nearby lymph nodes that contain
cancer. You may also have surgery to ease pressure or pain. The remaining
kidney is often able to do the work of both kidneys.
Biologic therapy. This is also known as immunotherapy. It uses medicines that work like
chemicals that your body's immune system makes. They help your immune
system fight the cancer.
Radiation therapy. This treatment kills cancer cells with high-energy X-rays. Radiation is
most often used when the kidney cancer has spread to certain bones or
the brain. It may be used to treat symptoms such as cough or pain.
Chemotherapy. This treatment uses 1 or more medicines to kill cancer cells or shrink
tumors. They work by attacking rapidly growing cells. Regular chemotherapy
medicines are not often very effective against kidney cancer.
Targeted therapy. These are medicines that target specific parts of kidney cancer cells
to kill them or slow their growth. These medicines work differently from
regular chemotherapy medicines. They're often used to treat advanced
Ablation therapy.There are 2 main types of ablation therapy used to treat kidney cancer.
They're both done by putting a needle into an area of cancer cells.
This is a less-invasive treatment that causes less bleeding. It also keeps
the side effects to a small area of the body. Radiofrequency ablation
(RFA) uses energy waves to kill cancer cells. Cryoablation uses extreme
cold to kill cancer cells.
Supportive care. Your health care provider may advise therapies that help ease your symptoms,
but don't treat the cancer. Your health care provider may suggest
supportive care if he or she believes that available treatments are more
likely to do you more harm than good.
Your health care provider may suggest that you have more than 1 of these
types of treatment. This is sometimes called combination therapy. Newer
types of treatment may be available only through a research study. This
is called a clinical trial. Talk with your health care provider about
what clinical trials may be an option for you.