by Max Westerman | Updated January 25, 2021
According to cancer.gov, five standard methods of treatment are commonly used in the medical world when fighting Kidney Cancer.
The first step in analyzing kidney cancer treatment is understanding whether it can just be removed outright. There are three different ways to accomplish this – a partial nephrectomy (which means the removal of part of one kidney that contains the cancerous cells), a simple nephrectomy (which means to remove an entire kidney), or a radical nephrectomy (which means a kidney is removed along with its adrenal glands, surrounding body tissue, and nearby lymph nodes). It’s important to note that a person can survive healthily with only part of one functioning kidney, but a dialysis machine is needed if a person is missing both. Additionally, doctors will recommend either chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill off any remaining cancer cells left in the area.
- Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a treatment method where high-energy x-rays (or other types of radiation) are used to kill off or stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. The method of radiation therapy used to treat kidney cancer is known as external radiation therapy, where a machine sends radiation directly to the affected site to perform its functions. Not only does this method help aid against the cancer, it will alleviate some of the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Chemotherapy involves the use of prescription drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. These drugs are either tasked with killing the cancer cells or halting cell division so the cells can no longer replicate. Chemotherapy medications are usually either taken by mouth or by injection and are carried by the bloodstream directly to the affected site.
- Immunotherapy (aka. Biotherapy or Biologic Therapy)
Immunotherapy weaponizes the immune system against the cancerous cells. While the immune system naturally identifies these cells as cancerous and will fight them on their own, doctors can prescribe immune system boosters, direct the immune system to focus on affected areas, and restore the immune system if it is unable to continue fighting the cancerous cells. For more information about immunotherapy treatment options, visit https://www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/patient/kidney-treatment-pdq.
- Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy is a form of chemotherapy where prescribed drugs are used to specifically attack cancer cells without harming normal body cells. These are called antiangiogenic agents, whose function is to stop blood vessels from forming in a tumor, making it either dry up from a lack of blood flow or shrink in size. Monoclonal antibodies and kinase inhibitors are the two main forms of antiangiogenic agents.
While these are the main forms of cancer treatment, victims of the disease may also participate in experimental trials supported by either the National Institute of Health (NIH) or the National Cancer Institute (NCI). John Estrella, the man who sparked the creation of this entire organization, repeatedly and willingly participated in experimental trials in the hopes of finding treatment and recovery options.
We highly recommend reaching out to a doctor or using https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials to learn more and get involved in experimental trials to aid with kidney cancer. Patients can start experimental trials at any point during their treatment but follow-up tests for results or side effects may be required.
Renal Cell Cancer Treatment (PDQ®). National Cancer Institute. 2020 Jul 10 [accessed 2021 Jan 18]. https://www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/patient/kidney-treatment-pdq