- How is kidney cancer treated?
- Surgery for kidney cancer
- Other local treatments for kidney cancer
- Active surveillance for kidney cancer
- Radiation therapy for kidney cancer
- Targeted therapies for kidney cancer
- Biologic therapy (immunotherapy) for kidney cancer
- Chemotherapy for kidney cancer
- Pain control for kidney cancer
- Clinical trials for kidney cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies after kidney cancer
Chemotherapy for kidney cancer
Chemotherapy (chemo) is the use of anti-cancer drugs that are put into a vein or given as a pill. These drugs enter the blood and go throughout the body, making the treatment useful for cancers that have spread to distant organs.
Kidney cancer doesn’t usually respond well to chemo, so it’s not a standard treatment for this disease. Chemo is only used for advanced kidney cancer after targeted drugs and/or immunotherapy have already been tried.
Doctors give chemo in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a period of rest to give the body time to recover. Chemo cycles generally last a few weeks.
Chemo can have some side effects. These side effects depend on the type of drug, how much you take, and how long you take it. Common side effects can include:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Feeling tired
Most of the side effects go away when treatment is over. Anyone who has problems with side effects should talk with their doctor or nurse. There are often ways to lessen them.
For more about chemo, see the “Chemotherapy” section of our website, or our document Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families.
Last Medical Review: 04/29/2014
Last Revised: 04/29/2014