Renal Cell Cancer (cont.)
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What Are Treatment Options for Renal Cell Carcinoma?
The likelihood that renal cell cancer will be cured depends on its stage when it is diagnosed and treated. Renal cell cancers found in the early stages are cured over half the time. Unfortunately, this cancer often is not found until it has reached an advanced stage. The chance of curing metastatic (stage IV) renal cell cancer is small.
What Medical Therapies and Medications Treat Renal Cell Carcinoma?
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Treatment of renal cell cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the person's overall health, which determines how well that person is able to tolerate various therapies. A medical team will devise a treatment plan that is tailored specifically for the individual. Therapies that are used for renal cell cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, hormone therapy, targeted agents, and radiation therapy. Historical trials of conventional chemotherapy and hormonal therapies have proved ineffective. Clinical trials (tests of new medicines) may be appropriate for some patients with kidney cancer. A person may undergo a single therapy or a combination of therapies.
Generally, surgery is the best treatment for renal cell cancer that has not metastasized. For more information, see Surgery.
Chemotherapy is the use of strong drugs to kill cancer cells.
Hormone therapy involves taking a hormone to kill cancer cells. Several different hormone preparations have been tried in renal cell cancer in the past, but these agents are less effective than targeted chemotherapy and are no longer used frequently. Provera was a hormonal treatment used in the past, either as a pill or a long-lasting or Depot injection.
Biological therapy, sometimes called immunotherapy, tries to boost the body's own immune system to fight and kill the cancer, by using substances made naturally by the body. These substances are copied in a laboratory and injected into the body.
Radiation therapy uses a high-energy radiation beam to kill cancer cells. Renal cell cancers typically are somewhat resistant to radiation. Some people undergo radiation therapy to the area where the kidney was after surgery to kill tumor cells that remain. Radiation therapy is often used to relieve symptoms in persons with metastatic disease or who cannot undergo surgery because of other medical conditions.
Because metastatic renal cell cancer is largely incurable with currently available forms of systemic therapy, patients with metastatic renal cell cancer are encouraged to discuss innovative clinical trials with their physicians before making a final decision.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/14/2015
Kush Sachdeva, MD
Brendan Curti, MD
Winston W Tan, MD
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Koyamangalath Krishnan, MD, FRCP
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Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Renal Cell Cancer:
Renal Cell Carcinoma - Symptoms and Signs
The symptoms and signs of renal cell carcinoma can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms and signs at the onset of your disease?
Renal Cell Carcinoma - Treatment
What treatment has been effective for your renal cell carcinoma?
Renal Cell Carcinoma - Metastasis
Had your renal cell carcinoma metastasized by the time it was diagnosed?
Renal Cell Cancer - Experience
What is your biggest challenge with living with renal cell carcinoma?