To determine an appropriate treatment, your doctor will consider the type, grade (degree of malignancy) and stage of your cancer. He can also rely on your general health and age. These factors are very important when it comes to chemotherapy drugs. However, whatever the treatment considered, you will be invited to participate in the final choice.
In general, treatment of kidney cancer is a combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or/and immunotherapy. However, chemotherapy and radiotherapy produce almost no effect on kidney cancer.
The treatment of kidney cancer is primarily surgical. The type of surgery performed depends on the characteristic (aggressive or not) of the tumor. Practically, your surgeon will perform radical nephrectomy, simple nephrectomy or partial nephrectomy.
Radical nephrectomy – this type of surgery is performed to remove the entire kidney, adrenal gland located above the kidney and adjacent lymph nodes. If you have a localized kidney cancer, radical nephrectomy is the standard surgical treatment to fight the tumor.
Partial nephrectomy – this surgical procedure involves the removal of the tumor and some of surrounding tissue; in general, a portion of the kidney and surrounding normal tissue is left. Your surgeon will perform a partial nephrectomy if both kidneys are affected by the cancer or if you have a previous renal operation that leaves you with only one kidney.
Simple nephrectomy – this surgery consists of removing only your kidneys; nearby lymph nodes are left intact. A simple nephrectomy is recommended in cases of kidney cancer diagnosed at early stage or small-size tumor confined to the kidney.
Non surgical treatment
Embolization – This method involves injecting a material into your blood vessel leading to the kidney to block blood flow to the tumor. Once blood flow to the kidney is stopped, cancer cells become starved of oxygen and other nutrients to survive. However, embolization may cause nausea, vomiting or pain.
Cryoablation – this therapeutic procedure consist of using hollow needles (cryoprobes) to freeze the diseased kidney. During the procedure, your physician inserts cryoprobes through small incisions in your skin and into the tumor, through which cooled, thermally conductive fluids are circulated down to your kidneys to freeze the diseased tissue along with a small margin of healthy tissue. During the procedure, you doctor will use CT scan to monitor the progression of the therapy.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy
In some cases, some doctors may recommend chemotherapy or radiotherapy to destroy cancerous cells in your kidneys; however, chemotherapy and radiotherapy produce almost no curative effect on kidney cancer.
In case you have a metastatic kidney cancer, your doctor may use special medications to slow or stop the development and division of the cancerous cells. Drugs commonly used in the treatment of metastatic kidney cancer include:
- bevacizumab (Avastin)
- sorafenib (Nexavar)
- sunitinib (Sutent)
- temsirolimus (Torisel)
- everolimus (Afinitor).
Unfortunately, some times, the treatment offers no relief; metastatic kidney cancer rarely responds to drug treatment.