Sarcomatoid renal (kidney) cancer

Sarcomatoid renal cancer is a rare type of kidney cancer.

Most kidney cancers start in cells called clear cells, but they can start in other cells too. Almost any type of renal cell cancer can become sarcomatoid. This means that the cells of the cancer look like the cells of a sarcoma (cancer of the connective tissues, such as muscles, nerves, fat, blood vessels and fibrous tissue).

Sarcomatoid renal cancers tend to grow more quickly than other types of kidney cancer and are more likely to spread to other parts of the body. This makes them more difficult to treat.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The symptoms of sarcomatoid kidney cancer are the same as the symptoms of kidney cancer. The tests you have to diagnose it are the same too.


If your cancer is within the kidney, the main treatment is surgery.

If there is a high risk of the cancer coming back, you might have targeted cancer drugs or other treatments.

If your cancer has spread or cannot be removed with surgery, you may have targeted cancer drugs. You might be able to join a clinical trial.

Chemotherapy does not usually work well for sarcomatoid kidney cancer. But for some people it can help to control the cancer and stop it growing or shrink it for a while.

Doctors tend to use similar chemotherapy drugs to those they use to treat other types of sarcoma. This is often a combination of different chemotherapy drugs.

Doctors are researching the best way to use targeted cancer drugs for sarcomatoid renal cell cancer. They are also trying to find out which patients are likely to benefit most from these treatments.


Coping with a diagnosis of a rare cancer can be especially difficult. Being well informed about your cancer and its treatment can help. It can make it easier to make decisions and cope with what happens.

Talking to other people who have the same thing can also help.

Our discussion forum Cancer Chat is a place for anyone affected by cancer. You can share experiences, stories and information with other people.

You can call our nurse freephone helpline on 0808 800 4040. They are available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Or you can send them a question online.

The Rare Cancer Alliance offer support and information to people with rare cancers.

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    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
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    C Labecle and others

    World Journal of Urology, 2019.  37(1), pages 115 to 123

  • Sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma
    V Arnoux and others
    Prog Urology, 2013. Volume 23, issue 7, pages 430-7

  • Sorafenib after combination therapy with gemcitabine plus doxorubicine in patients with sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma: a prospective evaluation
    M Staehler and others
    European Journal of Medical Research, 2010. Volume 15, Pages 287 to91

  • Sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma: Biology and treatment advances
    NE Mouallem, SC Smith and AL Paul
    Urologic Oncology, 2018. Volume 36, issue 6, pages 265 to 271

Last reviewed: 
09 Mar 2020
Next review due: 
09 Mar 2023

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