Kidney Cancer


Radiation therapy helps patients with kidney cancer alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Kidney Cancer Overview

Kidneys are a pair of organs that are part of your urinary system. They remove waste and extra water from your blood and pass it through a ureter into your bladder. Urine collects in the hollow space in the middle of each kidney, called the renal pelvis. While there are several forms of kidney cancer, nine out of ten cases of kidney cancer begin in the renal pelvis. Kidney cancer is rare in people under the age of 55. It is estimated that over 56,000 people a year are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year in the United States.

Smoking is the most important risk factor for kidney cancer. Other factors include obesity, high blood pressure and a family history of kidney cancer. A rare disease, Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome also increases the risk of kidney cancer. Later stage symptoms include blood in the urine, side abdominal pain, unexpected weight loss and fatigue.

Kidney Cancer Treatment Options

Surgery, immunotherapy and targeted therapy are all effective kidney cancer treatment options. Radiation therapy may also be recommended to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Kidney cancer does not respond well to chemotherapy.

Surgery

Surgery is the primary treatment for kidney cancer. A nephrectomy is the removal of all or part of the kidney and the attached adrenal gland. The procedure can be done through larger incisions in the abdomen or laparoscopically through smaller incisions to access the tumor site and remove diseased tissue. This has become the technique of choice because it has reduced the long recovery of traditional surgery requiring a much larger incision. For patients who cannot have traditional surgery, other surgical techniques such as Cryotherapy (using extreme cold to freeze and destroy the tumor), Radiofrequency ablation (using high-energy radio waves to heat and destroy the tumor) and arterial embolization (blocking the artery that feeds the kidney) may be effective alternative treatment options.

Immunotherapy or Biologic Therapy

Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, uses certain drugs, administered via injection or IV, to boost your body’s own immune system so it can better fight the kidney cancer. Two drugs in particular, Interleukin-2 and Interferon Alpha can help shrink tumors by more than 50% and place kidney cancer in remission.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses pharmaceuticals to seek and attack molecules and cellular activity that the cancer depends on to survive and grow.  They may affect the proteins needed for the cancer cells to grow or they may interfere with forming new blood vessels that nourish the tumors.

Kidney Cancer Radiation Therapy

Kidney cancer is not very sensitive to radiation therapy. External Beam Radiation Therapy is most often used in advanced cases of kidney cancer as a palliative treatment to help ease pain, relieve symptoms and improve the patient’s daily quality of life.

Radiation Therapy for Kidney Cancer

Radiation Therapy

Kidney cancer is not very sensitive to radiation therapy. Although radiation therapy is not the most effective kidney cancer treatment, External Beam Radiation Therapy is often used in advanced cases as a palliative treatment to help ease pain, relieve symptoms and improve the patient’s daily quality of life.

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