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Treating Your Renal Cell Carcinoma: Options For You

by Brett Mills

When you find yourself at the doctor's office discussing your diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma, you may be shocked and unsure of what you can and should do moving forward. Before you allow yourself to become overwhelmed about your renal cell carcinoma, get to know some of the different treatment options available to you. Then, when you meet with your oncologist, you can be prepared to work together with them to design a treatment plan for your renal cell carcinoma that is right for you.

Surgery to Remove All or Part of the Kidneys

One of the first lines of treatment against renal cell carcinoma is surgery to remove all or part of your kidneys. If only one of your kidneys is affected by your renal cell carcinoma, then your surgery will only deal with that particular kidney, leaving the other healthy kidney to carry on cleansing your body of toxins and expelling waste.

However, if both of your kidneys are affected, then you may have to have both removed. If both whole kidneys are removed, you will need to be on dialysis until you can get a kidney transplant, and your cancer treatments will continue as needed until you get your transplant.


Immunotherapy treatment are also used quite often in the fight against renal cell cancer. These medications are designed to help stimulate the body's immune system to fight off the cancer cells in the body itself.

By triggering a response from the immune system rather than using drugs themselves to kill cancer cells, immunotherapy can do away with many of the negative side effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Generally speaking, the immunotherapy techniques in use for renal cell carcinoma are quite effective and are usually tried before chemotherapy is used.

Various Types of Chemotherapy

When many people are first diagnosed with any form of cancer, renal cell carcinoma included, they think of chemotherapy as a one-size-fits-all form of cancer treatment. While it is true that chemotherapy is a general type of treatment that is used to deal with most types of cancer, it is different for every type of cancer and every individual.

In the case of renal cell carcinoma, chemotherapy is actually not the first line of treatment. This is because chemotherapy has limited effects on kidney cancer. However, some chemotherapy drugs such as vinblastine and gemcitabine may be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments.

Additionally, the FDA recently approved the use of a drug known as nivolumab to be used to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma and the treatment has shown promise in advanced cases in which other treatments have been less effective.

Now that you know some of the treatment options available for your renal cell carcinoma, you can schedule your appointment with your oncology doctor and have a basic idea of what is to come in the near future.