Treatments for kidney cancer

If you have kidney cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for kidney cancer, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the stage
  • whether one or both of your kidneys are working
  • whether the cancer is in one or both kidneys
  • the type of kidney cancer
  • your overall health

Expert review and references

  • Alberta Health Services . Renal Cell Carcinoma Clinical Practice Guideline GU-003 . Alberta Health Services ; 2017 :
  • Jewett MAS, Rendon R, Lacombe L, Karakiewicz PI, Tanguay S, Kassouf W, Leveridge M, et al . Canadian guidelines for the management of small renal massess (SRM) . Canadian Urological Association Journal . 2015 .
  • Lane BR, Canter DJ, Rin BL, et al . Cancer of the kidney. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 63:865-884.
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network . NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Kidney Cancer (Version 2.2019) .
  • Reaume MN, Basappa NS, Wood L, et al . Management of advanced kidney cancer: Canadian Kidney Cancer Forum (CKCF) consensus update 2017 . Canadian Urological Association Journal . 2017 .

Treatments for stage 1 kidney cancer

The main treatment for stage I kidney cancer is removal of the kidney. Learn about treatment options for kidney cancer.

Treatments for stage 2 kidney cancer

Stage II kidney cancer is treated with surgery, but there are other options if you can’t have surgery. Learn about treatments for stage II kidney cancer.

Treatments for stage 3 kidney cancer

Surgery to remove the whole kidney is the standard treatment for stage 3 kidney cancer. Learn about treatment options for stage 3 kidney cancer.

Treatments for stage 4 kidney cancer

Targeted therapy is the treatment for stage IV kidney cancer, but surgery may be done first. Learn about treatment options for stage IV kidney cancer.

Treatments for recurrent kidney cancer

Treatment for recurrent kidney cancer depends on where the cancer has come back and what treatment you’ve already had. Learn about treatment options.

Surgery for kidney cancer

Most people with kidney cancer will have surgery to remove part of the kidney or the whole kidney. Learn about the surgeries for kidney cancer.

Targeted therapy for kidney cancer

Targeted therapy uses drugs that target proteins on the cancer cells. It is used for advanced kidney cancer. Learn about targeted therapies.

Immunotherapy for kidney cancer

Immunotherapy for kidney cancer uses the drug interferon. Learn about immunotherapy for kidney cancer.

Radiation therapy for kidney cancer

External beam radiation therapy may be used to treat pain and bleeding from kidney cancer. Learn about radiation therapy for kidney cancer.

Arterial embolization for kidney cancer

Arterial embolization blocks the blood supply to the kidney to shrink the kidney tumour in people who can’t have surgery. Learn about arterial embolization.

Ablation therapy for kidney cancer

Ablation therapies destroy kidney cancer using heat or cold in people who can’t have surgery. Learn about ablation therapies.

Active surveillance for kidney cancer

If you have kidney cancer but don’t have any symptoms, you may be offered active surveillance. This means that your healthcare team watches the cancer closely rather than giving treatment right away. They will use tests and examine you to see if the kidney cancer is growing or spreading.

Follow-up after treatment for kidney cancer

Follow-up after kidney cancer varies. Learn about scheduled follow-up appointments and the procedures and tests that may be done.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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