Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) represents 2-3% of all cancers. Learn more about this disease, its diagnosis and treatments.

Treatment options are9:

  • Surgery: Surgery is the main treatment for most kidney cancers. Even patients whose cancer has spread to other organs may benefit from surgery to take out the kidney tumor.
  • Ablation and other local therapies: other approaches can sometimes be used to destroy kidney tumors though they are not yet considered a standard treatment: Cryotherapy (cryoablation), Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), Arterial embolization.
  • Active surveillance: elderly or frail patients with small kidney tumors (less than 4 cm) may not receive any treatment at first. The tumor is carefully watched to see if it grows quickly or gets larger than 4 cm. It may be then surgically removed or treated.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is more often used to palliate, or ease, symptoms of kidney cancer.
  • Targeted therapy: These drugs are used as the first or second line of treatment against advanced/metastatic kidney cancers. They can often shrink or slow the growth of the cancer for a time, but it doesn’t seem that any of these drugs can actually cure kidney cancer
  • Immunotherapy (biologic therapy): The goal of biologic therapy is to boost the body’s immune system to help fight off or destroy cancer cells. They can be Cytokines (Interleukin-2 (IL-2), Interferon-alfa) or Immune checkpoint inhibitors.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy (chemo) uses anti-cancer drugs that are given into a vein or by mouth (in pill form). These drugs enter your blood and reach all areas of the body, which makes this treatment potentially useful for cancer that has spread (metastasized) to organs beyond the kidney.

2–3 %

of all cancers


renal masses remain asymptomatic


is the first treatment option

Sources :

1 Chow WH, Dong LM, Devesa SS. . Epidemiology and risk factors for kidney cancer. Nat Rev Urol 2010; 7: 245–257
2 European Network of Cancer Registries. Eurocim version 4.0. European incidence database V2.3, 730 entity dictionary (2001), Lyon, 2001.
3 Lindblad P. Epidemiology of renal cell carcinoma. Scand J Surg 2004;93(2):88-96
4 Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: estimates for 40 countries in 2012. Eur J Cancer 2013 Apr;49(6):1374-403.
5 Levi F, Ferlay J, Galeone C, et al. The changing pattern of kidney cancer incidence and mortality in Europe. BJU Int 2008 Apr;101(8):949-58
6 Renal cell carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
7 Guidelines on Renal Cell Carcinoma, European Association of Urology, 2014–
8 American Cancer Society.
9 European Association of Urology. Guidelines for Clear Cell Renal Cancers That Are Resistant to Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor–Targeted Therapy

Last update 13/04/2017