How is kidney cancer treated?

Treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage, and grade of the tumor, and the patient's age and overall health.

Surgery is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. Several surgical options may be considered, including:

  • Partial nephrectomy: The surgeon removes just the part of the kidney that contains the tumor.
  • Radical nephrectomy: The surgeon removes the whole kidney and some of the tissue around the kidney. Some lymph nodes in the area also may be removed.

When one kidney is removed, the remaining kidney usually is able to perform the work of both kidneys.

Surgery is the treatment of choice for most stages of kidney cancer. For chemotherapy for kidney cancer, there are many relatively new agents that block the blood flow to the tumor and put it into remission. These medications are typically taken by mouth and are generally well tolerated. The other approach is to use medication that activates the body’s own immune system to fight the tumor.

Some people with kidney cancer participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials are research programs conducted with patients to evaluate new medical treatments, drugs or devices. Clinical trials also are being conducted on new chemotherapy drugs and on new ways to use biological therapy for patients with kidney cancer.

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