Kidney Cancer (Adult) - Renal Cell Carcinoma

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Treating Kidney Cancer TOPICS

How is kidney cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

Making treatment decisions

After the cancer is found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. It is important to take time and think about your possible choices. In choosing a treatment plan, one of the most important factors is the stage of the cancer. Other factors to consider include your overall health, the likely side effects of the treatment, and the probability of curing the disease, extending life, or relieving symptoms.

If you have kidney cancer, your treatment options may include:

Sometimes, more than one of type of treatment might be used.

You may have different types of doctors on your treatment team, depending on the stage of your cancer and your treatment options. These doctors could include:

  • A urologist: a surgeon who specializes in treating diseases of the urinary system (and male reproductive system)
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy

Many other specialists might be part of your treatment team as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, and other health professionals. See Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care for more on this.

It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. (See the section “What should you ask your doctor about kidney cancer?” for some questions to ask.)

When time permits, getting a second opinion is often a good idea. It can give you more information and help you feel good about the treatment plan you choose.

The next few sections describe the different types of treatments used for kidney cancer. This is followed by a description of the most common treatment options based on the stage of the cancer.


Last Medical Review: 02/24/2014
Last Revised: 02/24/2014