Kidney Cancer Treatment Options: Surgery, Targeted Therapy, and Immunotherapy

Ultrasound of the Kidney - NU Hospitals

Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located on either side of the body, just below the rib cage. They help in filtering out blood, removing wastes, and extra fluids from the body. Sometimes, the function of the kidneys is marred by various diseases, including kidney cancer. The various treatment options available for a person suffering from kidney cancer depend on many factors such as cell type and stage of cancer, patient’s overall health and preferences as well as possible side effects. Kidney cancer is most commonly treated with surgery, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy or a combination of these. Here, we describe in detail about each treatment modality.  

Types of Kidney Cancer

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC) or renal cell adenocarcinoma. Among all RCCs, the most common form is clear cell renal cell carcinoma. There are other different types of renal cell carcinoma like papillary, chromophobe etc. Apart from the above listed types, there are some other forms of kidney cancer, including transitional cell carcinomas, Wilms tumors (nephroblastoma), and renal sarcomas.

Common types of treatment for kidney cancer

Team Performing Operation - NU Hospitals

The most common type of treatments available for kidney cancer and different disease states of kidney cancer are described below:

  • Surgery: During surgery, the tumor is removed from the cancerous kidney. If the cancer is localized within the kidney and has not metastasized (spread) to other organs, surgery may be the best-suited option for treatment. Surgery often entails removing the tumor along with part or whole of the kidney, as well as nearby tissues and lymph nodes. The surgical procedure for kidney cancer is of various types as briefly explained below:
    • Radical nephrectomy: This is a procedure that involves surgical removal of the tumor along with the entire kidney and the surrounding tissues. If the surrounding lymph nodes and nearby tissues are also affected by cancer, radical nephrectomy is followed by lymph node dissection. During a lymph node dissection, the cancer-affected lymph nodes are removed. Sometimes, the cancer spreads to the adrenal glands or nearby blood vessels. In such a situation,these are also removed..
    • Partial nephrectomy: This is the surgical removal of a small size tumor only without removing the entire kidney. This procedure lowers the risk of developing chronic kidney disease after the surgery has been performed as we are not removing the entire kidney.

    Both of the above surgeries can be performed either by laparoscopic or robotic approaches, which are minimally invasive forms of surgery. Laparoscopic procedure requires a few small cuts in the abdomen instead of a single, large incision. This surgery may sometimes be done using robotic equipment. This procedure is time-consuming but relatively less painful.

    Despite undergoing one of the above surgical procedures, occasionally there may be a recurrence of kidney cancer. In such an eventuality, a combination of two immunotherapy drugs or treatment with an immunotherapy drug, coupled with a targeted therapy drug is practiced. Read on to find more about targeted therapy and immunotherapy which are two forms of systemic therapy.

  • Targeted Therapy: In this therapy, specific cancer genes, proteins, or tissue environments that contribute to cancer growth and survival, are targeted. Treatment using targeted therapy, blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells and limits damage to healthy cells.
  • Immunotherapy: This therapy prepares a person’s own immune system to fight against the cancer cells. These acted as first-line therapy for advanced kidney cancer.. Currently, seven FDA-approved immunotherapy options are available to treat kidney cancer either as a single agent or in combination with another immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
  • Even though kidney cancer treatment needs a proper diagnosis and approach, it is treatable due to the various surgical and non-surgical options now available. A timely diagnosis can help save the kidneys from permanent damage and improve your longevity. Kidney cancer can be bothersome as it affects the normal functioning of the kidneys. If you suffer from kidney cancer, consult the Urologists at NU Hospitals who can guide you in a proper way to access the best treatment. Even rare conditions such as Wilms tumor can be treated at NU Hospitals under the able expertise of the Urologists here. Visit this hospital in Bangalore to avail of the best kidney cancer treatments


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