Treatment for kidney cancer

Surgery is the main treatment for kidney cancer that hasn't spread to another part of the body. If there is a higher chance of the cancer coming back after surgery, you may have an immunotherapy drug afterwards.

Sometimes your doctor may recommend another procedure instead of an operation. And some people may not need any treatment at all to start with. 

Advanced (metastatic) cancer means the cancer has spread to another part of your body. If you have advanced kidney cancer the treatments may be different.

Preparing for treatment and life afterwards (prehabilitation)

There are things you can do to help you feel more in control of your physical and mental health when preparing for treatment. In the hospital, preparing for treatment is also called prehabilitation or prehab.

Treatment options for kidney cancer

Your doctor and other health professionals meet to discuss the treatments suitable for you. This depends on factors such as the size of the cancer and if it has spread. Treatments include surgery, freezing or heating the cancer and targeted and immunotherapy drugs.

Monitoring a kidney cancer (active surveillance)

Your doctor may recommend monitoring a small kidney cancer before you have treatment. They may do this if you're older or have lots of other health problems. Your doctor will check the cancer regularly.

Surgery for kidney cancer

Your surgeon may remove all of your kidney or only the part where the cancer is. Your healthcare team make sure you are prepared for the operation, care for you afterwards and make sure you are ready to go home.

Immunotherapy after surgery for kidney cancer

Immunotherapy uses our immune system to fight cancer. If you have a higher chance of the kidney cancer coming back after surgery, you might have an immunotherapy drug in the weeks after your operation.

Blocking the blood supply for kidney cancer (renal artery embolisation)

Blocking the blood supply for kidney cancer is called renal artery embolisation. You might have this if you aren't able to have surgery and have symptoms from your cancer.

Cryotherapy for kidney cancer

Cryotherapy kills kidney cancer cells by freezing them. It is used to treat small, early stage kidney cancers. The aim is to cure the cancer without having to remove part or all of the kidney.

Microwave and radiofrequency ablation for kidney cancer

Microwave ablation and radiofrequency ablation use heat to kill cancer cells. They can treat small, early stage kidney cancers.

Follow up for kidney cancer

You have regular appointments at the hospital after treatment for kidney cancer. This is called follow up. You may also have CT scans and blood tests. How often you have follow ups depends on what treatment you've had and the chance of the cancer coming back.

Last reviewed: 
26 Jan 2024
Next review due: 
26 Jan 2027