Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer
Reference Surgery to remove all or part of the kidney usually cures kidney cancer that hasn't spread. There are two kinds of surgery:
- Radical nephrectomy. The surgeon removes the entire kidney, the layer of fat around the kidney, the tube (ureter) that drains urine from the kidney to your bladder, the adrenal gland, and nearby lymph nodes.
- Partial nephrectomy. The surgeon removes only the part of the kidney that is diseased, which allows the remaining part of the kidney to work normally. You may hear your doctor call this "nephron-sparing" surgery.
Surgery may not be a good choice for many older people or for people who have serious health problems that increase the risk of surgery.
When surgery isn't an option, arterial embolization may be used to shrink the tumor. This procedure blocks the blood flow to a tumor. In rare cases, this may be done before surgery.
After it is treated, kidney cancer may come back, sometimes many years after treatment.
Although radiation and chemotherapy are common treatments for many types of cancer, they usually don't work very well on kidney cancer. Treatments still being studied include using ultrasound waves or high-intensity radiation to destroy the cancer.
Active surveillance means that, instead of treating the cancer, your doctor will use regular imaging tests to watch the cancer.
Very small kidney tumors—usually found while doctors are looking for some other problem—may not be cancer and may never grow. And other small tumors that are cancer may grow quite slowly.
Treatment of advanced or metastatic cancer
Surgery is sometimes used to remove cancer that has spread. The surgery is usually followed by other treatment, such as:
- Reference Immunotherapy Opens New Window—medicines to help your immune system fight cancer.
- Reference Targeted therapy Opens New Window—medicines that stop cancer cells from growing.
These treatments may also be used without surgery.
Pain is one of the main concerns of people with advanced kidney cancer. But cancer pain can almost always be controlled. Treatments that may help include:
- Surgery. Sometimes surgery can help ease pain by removing some of the cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
- Reference Radiation Opens New Window. Like surgery, this treatment can help with pain by killing some of the cancer that has spread.
- Reference Chemotherapy Opens New Window. Although kidney cancer cells are usually resistant to the drugs used in chemotherapy, this treatment is sometimes used when other treatments haven't worked.
- Pain medicines.
- Nerve blocks.
After kidney cancer has spread, it is harder to treat. Your doctor may talk to you about being in a Reference clinical trial. For some people, this may be the best treatment choice.
Additional information about kidney cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/kidney.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Reference Palliative care Opens New Window can improve your quality of life by helping you manage your symptoms. It also can help you with other concerns that you may have when you are living with a serious illness.
For some people who have advanced cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for Reference hospice care Opens New Window.
It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment to prolong your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care. For more information, see the topics:
People sometimes use complementary treatment along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Some treatments that may be helpful include:
- Reference Acupuncture to relieve pain.
- Reference Meditation or Reference yoga to relieve stress.
- Reference Massage or Reference biofeedback to reduce pain and ease tension.
- Reference Breathing exercises for relaxation.
These mind-body treatments may help you feel better. They can make it easier to cope with treatment. They also may reduce chronic low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and pain from treatments.
Before you try a complementary treatment, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such treatments. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology