What are kidney cancer and its available treatments? 

Home Cancer What are kidney cancer and its available treatments? 
Kidney Cancer

Cancer that starts from the kidney is known as kidney cancer. Following are different types of kidney cancer:

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC)

RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer. Almost none out of ten incidences of kidney cancer is RCC. Usually, the number of cancerous tumors is one in RCC. But sometimes, more cancerous tumor growths are found in RCC. Single or both the kidneys may have the same or a different number of tumor growths.

RCC has different subtypes depending upon the nature of cancer cells diagnosed in the laboratory findings. The treatment plan depends upon the nature of cancer cells.

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma

This type of cancerous growth is common in RCC patients. In laboratory findings, this type of RCC looks very clear or pale. This is one of the most common subtypes of RCC.

Non-clear cell renal cell carcinomas

Papillary renal cell carcinoma

This is the second most common subtype of RCC. Paoillae or tiny finger-like projections in the cancer cells is the classic feature of this type of RCC. Alternatively, this cancer cell is also known as chromophilic under the microscope it looks pink in color because certain dyes stain these cancer cells.

Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma

The rate of incidence of such cancer cells is about 5% of total RCC incidence. The cells have a similar pale look as clear cell carcinoma under a microscope, but their size is bigger and some other recognizable features make them different.

Rare types of renal cell carcinoma

There are five rare types of RCCs are present like collecting duct RCC, multilocular cystic RCC, medullary carcinoma, mucinous tubular and spindle cell carcinoma, neuroblastoma-associated RCC. Almost 1% of these RCCs can occur.

Unclassified renal cell carcinoma

This is also a rare type of kidney cancer. This type of cancer is unclassified because more than one type of cancer cell is present.

Other types of kidney cancers

Following are three other types of kidney cancer.

Transitional cell carcinoma

This is also known as urothelial carcinomas and the incidence rate is 5% to 10%. The cancer progression starts from the renal pelvis, but not from the kidney itself. The transitional cells present in the uterus and bladder are affected and have similar look as bladder cancer. Therefore, the diagnosis is different.

Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma)

Children are susceptible to develop Wilms tumor and very rarely occurs in adults.

Renal sarcoma

This rare type of kidney cancer starts from blood vessels or other connective tissue attached to the kidney. The incidence rate of such kidney cancer is less than 1% of all kidney cancers.



Radical nephrectomy, partial nephrectomy, and laparoscopic and robotic surgery are different surgical interventions.

In radical nephrectomy is the complete removal of the tumor, entire kidney, and surrounding tissues. This is recommended for large tumor sizes.

Partial nephrectomy is the surgical removal of the tumor with a smaller surgical incision, or cut. The advantage of this type of treatment is associated with fewer side effects and a faster recovery.

Laparoscopic and robotic surgery is a minimally invasive process. This treatment requires specialized training. However, the surgeon and oncology team can estimate the benefits and risks of this process depending upon the individual case study.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and cryoablation are two non-surgical tumor treatments that are also applied sometimes depending upon the individual patients.

Targeted therapy

Anti-angiogenesis therapy targets vascular endothelial growth factors by inhibiting VEGF receptors. Bevacizumab is a good example of a VEGF receptor inhibitor. Axitinib, cabozantinib, pazopanib, lenvatinib, sorafenib, sunitinib, and tivozanib are examples of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. These targeted therapies are also effective treatments.

Everolimus and temsirolimus are mTOR inhibitors that target a certain protein that helps kidney cancer cells grow.

Sometimes combination therapy like axitinib and pembrolizumab or axitinib and avelumab is also recommended for treating advanced renal cell carcinoma.


Interleukin-2, alpha-interferon, and immune checkpoint inhibitors are three different types of biological therapy is designed to enhance the natural defenses to fight cancer. A combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors contains nivolumab and ipilimumab. This is an FDA-approved treatment given to certain patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma.


Kidney cancer often develops resistance against chemotherapy. But some new combination of therapy provides better result like gemcitabine with capecitabine or fluorouracil. This combination treatment can temporarily shrink a tumor.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is not the primary treatment option for kidney cancer. Kidney cancer rarely treats with chemotherapy because the chances damage of to healthy kidney tissues is high.




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