Kidney Cancer Treatments

What are the treatment options for kidney cancer?

City of Hope has more active clinical trials for kidney cancer patients than any other center in the region.

Your kidney cancer is every bit as unique as you are, and that is why treatment at City of Hope is focused around you and your loved ones.

This means our physicians will personally consult with you about your disease, treatment options and desired outcomes. Afterward, our multidisciplinary team of specialists will work together to discuss, design and deliver an individual treatment plan to best meet those goals.

The innovative treatments we use to treat kidney cancer include surgery, drug therapy and radiation therapy.

Leader in kidney cancer surgery

  • City of Hope is a nationwide leader in kidney cancer surgery, specializing in minimally invasive robotic procedures that use smaller incisions compared to traditional open surgery - this equals less pain and blood loss as well as a shorter recovery time, allowing patients to be treated with follow-up therapies sooner.
  • Our surgeons have performed over 8,300 urologic procedures robotically, more than any other hospital in the western United States.  With our expertise, most of the renal surgical procedures can be done robotically.
  • For metastatic disease, our urologic surgeons will coordinate with other surgical oncologists so that primary and secondary tumors can be removed in a single operation.
  • After surgery, City of Hope also has a recovery and follow-up program for postsurgical patients, aimed at helping them minimize risk of complications and recover as quickly and fully as possible. Specialists in this program include nurses, rehabilitation therapists, occupational therapists, clinical social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, dieticians and other supportive care medicine experts.


Surgery is a common treatment option for most kidney cancer patients, and can be curative for patients with early-stage, localized cancers.

Depending on size, stage, grade and location of the tumor, surgeries performed include:

  • Radical nephrectomy: This involves surgical removal of the whole kidney, along with the adrenal gland and fatty tissue surrounding the kidney.
  • Partial nephrectomy: Also known as a nephron sparing surgery, this procedure only removes the part of the kidney that contains cancer.
  • Removal of metastases: For kidney cancer that has spread to other sites – such as the lung, bone, brain or liver – surgery to remove the primary kidney tumor and secondary metastatic tumors can extend survival and relieve symptoms.

When surgical removal of tumors is not an option, our doctors may aim to destroy or starve the tumors using other localized techniques, such as:

  • Applying extreme cold to the tumor (cryoablation)
  • Applying a high-energy current to the tumor (radiofrequency ablation)
  • Blocking the blood supply that feeds the tumor (arterial embolizaion)

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be delivered externally using focused beams of energy, or internally by placing a radiation-emitting substance placed in or near the tumor site.

Kidney cancer is typically not treated with radiation therapy, due to the organ’s sensitivity to radiation and the cancer’s resistance to it. However, radiation may be used to treat secondary tumors at other sites or to alleviate symptoms associated with advanced cancer.