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Treatment decisions

A team of doctors and other professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you. They are called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).

The members of the team specialise in different areas of kidney cancer treatment and support. The team usually includes the following people:

  • doctors, including a specialist surgeon (urologist), a cancer specialist (oncologist), a specialist in scans and X-rays (radiologist) and a specialist in analysing tissue samples (pathologist)
  • a specialist cancer nurse
  • symptom control specialists
  • dieticians
  • physiotherapists and occupational therapistis
  • psychologists and counsellors

Your treatment will depend on a number of factors including:

  • your general health and fitness
  • the size of your cancer and where it is in the kidney
  • whether the cancer has spread into lymph nodes close to the kidney
  • whether your cancer has spread to another part of your body

Your doctor will discuss your treatment, its benefits and the possible side effects with you.

Treatment overview

Surgery is the main treatment for kidney cancer that hasn't spread to another part of your body. You might also have surgery for cancer that has spread (advanced cancer).

Your doctor might offer you targeted cancer drugs if your kidney cancer has spread.

Other treatments for kidney cancer include:

  • freezing the cancer (cryotherapy)
  • radio wave treatment (RFA)
  • radiotherapy
  • blocking the cancer's blood supply (arterial embolisation)

Treatment by stage

Cancer that hasn't spread (stages 1, 2 and 3)

Surgery is the main treatment if your cancer hasn't spread to other parts of your body. If your cancer is smaller than 3cm and you are older or unwell, your doctor might suggest you have no treatment at first. They will monitor you closely.

Stage 1 and 2 kidney cancers contained in the kidney are often cured with surgery.  Stage 3 cancers are called locally advanced cancers. They can sometimes be cured if the surgeon can remove all the cancer. 

If you can't have surgery you might have:

  • freezing therapy (cryotherapy)
  • radio wave treatment (RFA)
  • radiotherapy
  • blocking the blood supply to the cancer (arterial embolisation)

Cancer that has spread (stage 4)

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

Targeted cancer drugs are one of the main treatments. There are several different types of targeted cancer drug for advanced kidney cancer. These drugs can often stop or slow the growth of the cancer for months or sometimes years.

You might have surgery if you are well enough to recover from the operation.  The surgeon might remove your kidney alone, or your kidney and the secondary cancer. 

Other possible treatments include:

  • freezing therapy (cryotherapy)
  • radio wave treatment (RFA)
  • radiotherapy
  • blocking the blood supply to the cancer (arterial embolisation)
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy

If kidney cancer comes back

Sometimes kidney cancer comes back in the area of the kidney after surgery. You might have more surgery to remove the cancer or the whole kidney. This can get rid of the cancer completely for some people.

Your doctor might recommend targeted cancer drugs to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back again.

If your cancer comes back in another part of the body, your treatment will depend on where the cancer is. You usually have surgery if it is possible to remove the cancer.

If you can't have surgery, you usually have targeted cancer drugs. The treatment aims to stop the cancer from growing and keep it under control. These treatments can control the cancer for months or sometimes years. 

Clinical trials

Your doctor might ask if you’d like to take part in a clinical trial. Doctors and researchers do trials to make existing treatments better and develop new treatments.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.