Chemotherapy for kidney cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Chemotherapy for kidney cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. They disrupt the growth of cancer cells. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream around the body.

Chemotherapy for renal cell cancer

Chemotherapy is not a standard treatment for the most common type of kidney cancer (called renal cell cancer). Chemotherapy isn't generally used for renal cell cancer because, so far, other types of treatment such as biological therapies work better. But new drugs are being developed all the time and new combinations of treatments are being tried. Trials are looking into combining biological therapies with chemotherapy. You can look for chemotherapy trials in kidney cancer in our clinical trials database.

Chemotherapy for transitional cell cancer

Chemotherapy is used more often for a type of cancer called transitional cell cancer, which can grow in the kidney, bladder or connecting tubes of the urinary system (the ureters). This type of cancer behaves more like bladder cancer, and so you may find the chemotherapy for bladder cancer section helpful.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating kidney cancer section.

 

 

What chemotherapy is

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. These work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream around the body.

 

Chemotherapy for renal cell cancer

Chemotherapy isn't generally used for renal cell cancer. This is because other types of treatment such as biological therapies work better. But new drugs are being developed all the time and new combinations of treatments are being tried. These must be fully tested in clinical trials before they can be used as treatments. This is so that we are sure that they work for kidney cancer and are safe. Some trials are looking at combining chemotherapy drugs with biological therapies.

We have information about biological therapies for kidney cancer

 

Chemotherapy for transitional cell cancer

Chemotherapy is used more often for a type of cancer called transitional cell cancer, which can grow in the kidney, bladder or the connecting tubes of the urinary system (the ureters). This type of cancer behaves more like bladder cancer, and so you may find the chemotherapy for bladder cancer section helpful. Among the drugs being tested for transitional cell cancer of the kidney are mitomycin C and vinflunine.

 

Dietary or herbal supplements and chemotherapy

We don't yet know much scientifically about how some nutritional or herbal supplements may interact with chemotherapy. Some could be harmful. It is very important to let your doctors know if you take any supplements. Tell them if you are prescribed therapies by alternative or complementary therapy practitioners.

Some studies seem to suggest that fish oil preparations may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. If you are taking or thinking of taking these supplements talk to your doctor to find out whether they could affect your treatment. 

Talk to your specialist about any other tablets or medicines you take while you are having treatment. There is information about the safety of herbal, vitamin and diet supplements in the complementary therapies section.

 

Find out more about chemotherapy

For more information about chemotherapy look at the chemotherapy section. It explains the treatment and the possible side effects. 

You can also ask your chemotherapy nurse or contact Cancer Research UK's cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help.

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Updated: 3 February 2016