Other treatments for kidney cancer

Surgery is the most accepted treatment for early-stage kidney cancer. However, if you are not well enough for surgery and the tumour is small, your doctor may recommend other treatments for kidney cancer, such as radiofrequency ablation or stereotactic body radiation therapy.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses high-energy radio waves to heat the tumour. The heat kills the cancer cells and forms internal scar tissue.

For this procedure, the doctor inserts a needle into the tumour under the guidance of a CT scan. An electrical current is passed into the tumour from the needle. The treatment takes about 15 minutes and you can usually go home after a few hours. Side effects, including pain or fever, can be managed with medication.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy 

Radiation therapy uses radiation, such as x-rays, to kill or damage cancer cells. It is also known as radiotherapy.

Standard radiation therapy is not effective in treating primary kidney cancer, but stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is looking promising and your doctor may recommend it in particular situations. This is a highly targeted form of radiation therapy that focuses thin beams of radiation onto the tumour from different angles.

Treatment after surgery: Clinical trials are currently testing whether particular targeted therapy and immunotherapy drugs should be given after surgery for early kidney cancer (adjuvant treatment).

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This information was last reviewed in November 2016.
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