About advanced kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is called advanced if it has spread to another part of the body. This is also called a secondary cancer or metastasis.

Your cancer may be advanced when you're first diagnosed. Or it may come back or spread some time after treatment.

Not all cancers spread. Aches and pains may not be caused by your cancer. But do check with your doctor about any symptom that are worrying you.

Where kidney cancer spreads

Kidney cancer can spread to one or more than one of the following:

  • tissues or organs close to the kidney, like the bowel
  • lungs
  • bones
  • brain
  • liver
  • the other kidney

Decisions about your treatment

Which treatment is best for you depends on:

  • the size of the cancer and where it is
  • where the cancer has spread to
  • the treatment you have already had
  • your general health

It’s a good idea to find out:

  • whether treatments have side effects that affect your quality of life
  • what the treatment involves, such as travelling back and forth to the hospital
  • what happens if you decide not to have treatment

The doctor will explain what your treatment options can achieve and how they may affect you. 

You may also want to talk things over with a close friend or family member. Or there may be a counsellor you can discuss your feelings with.

The main treatments

Local treatment such as surgery or radiotherapy may be best if you have only one area of cancer spread. Targeted cancer drugs might be a better option if the cancer is in more than one area.

It may not help to repeat a type of treatment you've had before. And it is not usually possible to give more radiotherapy to an area that has already been treated.


Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

For information and support, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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