Radiation therapy for advanced kidney cancer
Also known as radiotherapy, radiation therapy uses a controlled dose of radiation to kill or damage cancer cells.
Learn more about:
- How radiation therapy may be used
- Having radiation therapy
- Side effects of radiation therapy
- Video: What is radiation therapy?
How radiation therapy may be used
Conventional external beam radiation therapy may be used if you are not able to have surgery. It may also be used in advanced kidney cancer to shrink a tumour and relieve symptoms such as pain and bleeding (palliative treatment).
Some people may have stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to treat some or all of the tumours that have spread. This may be offered when the cancer has spread to only a few places outside the kidney.
Having radiation therapy
If you have radiation therapy, you will lie on a treatment table under a machine called a linear accelerator. The machine directs radiation beams from outside the body to the kidney. The treatment is painless and takes only a few minutes.
The total number of treatment sessions depends on your situation. Each session usually lasts for 10–20 minutes. You will be able to go home once the session is over, and in most cases you can drive afterwards.
Side effects of radiation therapy
You might have some temporary side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, tiredness and skin irritation. The radiation oncologist can talk to you about possible side effects and ways to manage them.
For more on this, see our general section on Radiation therapy.
Video: What is radiation therapy?
If you have cancer, radiation therapy may play a big role in your treatment plan. Learn more in this short video.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Alarick Picardo, Urologist, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Heidi Castleden, Consumer; Donna Clifford, Urology Nurse Practitioner, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Mike Kingsley, Consumer; Prof Paul De Souza, Medical Oncologist and Professor of Medicine, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Luke O’Connor, Urology Nurse, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; A/Prof Shankar Siva, Radiation Oncologist and Cancer Council Victoria Colebatch Fellow, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Homi Zargar, Uro-Oncologist and Robotic Surgeon, Western Health and Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.