Treatment depends on many things, such as position, type, stage and grade of the cancer. The options available would depend on these factors and the general health of the patient. If possible, the aim would be to cure or remove the cancer completely. If the cancer has spread to other organs beyond the kidney, treatments may be aimed at controlling or slowing the growth of cancer. Other treatments are aimed at controlling the symptoms of the cancer, such as relieving pain or other discomfort.
Surgery is the main treatment for kidney cancer. It is performed with the aim of completely removing the cancer. Removal of part, or whole kidney may be performed through open or keyhole surgery.
Radiotherapy is the use of high energy radiation beams directed at the tumour to destroy the cancerous cells. It can be used in addition to surgery, or aimed at sites to where the cancer has spread (such as bones, lung, brain). If a patient’s general health is too poor to undergo an operation, radiotherapy can be used to treat the primary kidney cancer.
In small kidney cancers, tumour ablation can sometimes be performed instead of surgery, or if you are not fit enough for an operation. This is where the cancer cells are destroyed through heating or freezing the tumour.
Embolisation is a procedure for patients who usually cannot have surgery. The procedure uses x-ray guidance to cuts off the blood supply by blocking off the blood vessels to the tumour. This causes shrinkage of the tumour and can improve symptoms.
If tumours look low grade or slow growing, doctors may recommend just monitoring the cancer. This is to delay treatment until it is needed.
Immunotherapy is the use of medicines which stimulate the body’s own immune system to attack the cancerous cells. They can be used to decrease the likelihood of cancer coming back after surgery, or used in some types of advanced kidney cancer.
Your doctor and nurse specialists will discuss the risks and benefits of treatments available to you, their side effects and what things you should think about before taking a decision.