Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Kidney Cancer

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 6/2014
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ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about kidney cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Because most types of kidney cancer do not respond well to traditional chemotherapy, research for kidney cancer focuses on using new and different treatments, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Targeted therapy. Several recently discovered drugs that affect the process of blood vessel development and/or cancer cell growth are being tested as treatments for kidney cancer. The early results from these clinical trials show that these types of drugs may be effective treatments for kidney cancer, and this is an area of rapid scientific change. Many targeted therapies are being studied for use as adjuvant therapies, which are treatments given after the main treatment(s) to lower the risk of recurrence and to get rid of any hidden remaining cancer cells. Currently, there are no adjuvant therapies for kidney cancer that have shown significant benefit.

Cancer vaccines. Cancer vaccines are treatments that help a person’s immune system fight cancer. Doctors are testing the use of several cancer vaccines to treat kidney cancer and prevent recurrence for people with later-stage renal cell carcinoma. One vaccine is made from a person's tumor and given after surgery, while others are made from proteins found on the surface of kidney cancer cells or blood vessel cells found in the tumor.

Checkpoint inhibitors. A new type of immunotherapy, called checkpoint inhibitors, works by taking the brakes off the immune system so the immune system is better able to destroy the cancer. These drugs utilize antibodies directed at specific molecules found on the surface of immune cells, such as programmed death-1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Antigen-4 (CTLA-4). Some early results of research using these drugs to treat kidney cancer are encouraging, and more clinical trials are currently ongoing.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current kidney cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding kidney cancer, explore these related items that will take you outside of this guide:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.

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