Treatment for kidney cancer

There are many different types of treatment for kidney cancer. Your treatment will depend on you and your cancer.

Treatment for kidney cancer is based on the type of kidney cancer you have and its stage, your overall health and treatment preferences. This may involve surgery, active surveillance, radiofrequency ablation, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy or radiation therapy.

Surgery is often the primary form of treatment, where a section or the entire kidney is removed (partial or radical nephrectomy).

  • Active surveillance – involves closely monitoring the cancer through ultrasounds, CT scans and physical examinations rather than receiving immediate treatment. This is only suitable for small tumours confined within the kidney
  • Surgery – may involve removing part of the kidney affected by cancer (partial nephrectomy) or the entire kidney (radical nephrectomy). If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other nearby structures, they may also need to be removed
  • Radiofrequency ablation – uses electrical currents to destroy cancer cells through inserting a needle directly into the tumour
  • Radiation therapy – uses high-energy particles to target and destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be delivered following other treatment, when the patient only has one kidney, if the cancer has spread beyond the kidney to control or reduce symptoms, or when the patient is not healthy enough to have surgery
  • Targeted therapies – focuses specifically on treating the kidney cancer through targeting cancer cells, and not healthy cells. Targeted therapies may be used for advanced kidney cancer or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning
  • Immunotherapy – uses your immune system to slow the growth of cancer cells and destroy existing cancer cells. You may receive immunotherapy if your kidney cancer is advanced
  • Chemotherapy – involves the use of anti-cancer drugs which are taken orally (by mouth) or injected into the body. Chemotherapy may be used to treat advanced kidney cancer that does not respond to other treatments


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