Kidney Cancer Treatment

Providing expert treatment options for kidney cancer.

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Cancer specialist discussing kidney cancer treatment options with patient

There are many treatment choices for kidney or renal cancer. Which may work best for you will depend on a number of factors. These include the cancer type, the tumor size and where it is, and the stage of the cancer. Factors also include your age, overall health, and what side effects you’ll find acceptable.

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.

Your oncologist, or cancer specialist, is the best person to answer your questions. They can tell you what your treatment choices are, how well they’re expected to work, and what the risks and side effects are. Your healthcare provider may advise a specific treatment. Or you may be offered more than one, and asked to decide which one you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It's important to take the time you need to make the best decision.

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 one 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

Kidney cancer treatment options

There are several types of treatment for kidney cancer (also called renal cell cancer), and many people undergo a combination of treatments. In some cases, your doctor may recommend “active surveillance,” which means you are followed closely and your cancer is monitored.

: There are three surgeries most often used for kidney cancer: 

  • Removal of some of the kidney tissue and tissue around it (partial nephrectomy)
  • Removal of the kidney (simple nephrectomy)
  • Removal of the kidney plus the adrenal gland and possibly nearby lymph nodes (radical nephrectomy). 

Kidney cancer surgery may be done robotically; this approach may reduce pain and recovery time. 

  • Interventional radiology: Doctors use images from CT, X-ray, ultrasound, MRI or other tests to guide the tools needed to perform thermal ablation or renal cryoablation. Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses cold energy to destroy the cancer in the kidney. Ablation is usually an outpatient procedure, although some patients may stay overnight. This treatment may be an option for people who are not good candidates for  surgery.
  • Radiation:  is the use of X-rays to destroy cancer cells. Radiation is rarely used to treat kidney cancer
  • Chemotherapy: Is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body.

Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating kidney cancer. There may also be a clinical trial (research study) for which you are eligible. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care.

Kidney cancer experts

Legacy Cancer Institute, located in Portland, OR, ranks among the nation’s best cancer programs. Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists who work together to diagnose and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Find the right provider and treatment close to home.

Legacy Cancer Institute is accredited as an integrated network cancer program by the American College of surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Learn more about our quality cancer care.

Working together for you

Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.

A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.

Legacy Health collaborates with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to advance cancer care in our region. By working together, you benefit from the strength of both leaders in cancer care. As an integrated community cancer program for adults, we make sure that you have access to the latest treatments, technology and research available.

What happens next

Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these symptoms in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.

To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back. 

More support

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Nurse navigators
Legacy Cancer Healing Center 
Support groups and classes
Cancer rehabilitation 
Survivorship services