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Renal cell carcinoma

  • Alternative Names

    Renal cancer; Kidney cancer; Hypernephroma; Adenocarcinoma of renal cells; Cancer - kidney


    Surgical removal of all or part of the kidney (nephrectomy) is recommended. This may include removing the bladder or surrounding tissues or lymph nodes.

    In some patients, surgery to remove a small number of tumors that have spread (metastases) may be helpful.

    Radiation therapy usually does not work for renal cell carcinoma so it is not often used. Hormone treatments may reduce the growth of the tumor in some cases.

    Chemotherapy is generally not effective for treating renal cell carcinoma. The drug interleukin-2 (IL-2), which works by helping the body’s own immune system kill the cancer cells, may help a small number of patients, but it is very toxic. Other chemotherapy drugs have been used, but patients generally do not live long once the disease has spread outside the kidney.

    Newer therapies include sorafenib (Nexavar), sunitinib (Sutent), and temsirolimus (Torisel). The biologic drug bevacizumab (Avastin) has also been used.

    A cure is unlikely unless all of the cancer is removed with surgery.

    Support Groups

    You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

    See also:

    • Cancer - support group
    • Kidney disease - support group

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome depends on how much the cancer has spread and how well it responds to treatment. The survival rate is highest if the tumor is in the early stages and has not spread outside the kidney. If it has spread to the lymph nodes or to other organs, the survival rate is much lower.

    • High blood pressure (hypertension)
    • High calcium level
    • High red blood cell count
    • Liver function abnormalities
    • Spread of the cancer

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider any time you see blood in the urine. Also call if you have any other symptoms of this disorder.