Surgery to remove of all or part of the kidney (nephrectomy) is recommended. This may include removing the bladder, surrounding tissues, or lymph nodes. A cure is unlikely unless all of the cancer is removed with surgery. But even if some cancer is left behind, patients can still benefit from surgery.
Hormone treatments may make the tumor smaller in some cases.
Chemotherapy is generally not effective for treating kidney cancer. The immune system medicine interleukin-2 (IL-2) may help some patients. Medicines that target the development of blood vessels that feed the tumor may be used to treat kidney cancer. Your doctor can tell you more.
Radiation therapy usually does not work for kidney cancer.
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.
Sometimes, both kidneys are involved. The cancer spreads easily, most often to the lungs and other organs. In about one-third of patients, the cancer has already spread (metastasized) at the time of diagnosis.
How well a patient does depends on how much the cancer has spread and how well treatment works. The survival rate is highest if the tumor is in the early stages and has not spread outside the kidney. If it has spread to the lymph nodes or to other organs, the survival rate is much lower.
Pili R, Kauffman E, Rodriguez R. Cancer of the kidney. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2013:chap 82.
Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.