Treatment for kidney cancer depends on its characteristics and stage, as well as on the patient’s overall health, preferences, and goals. Our team will work with you to determine the best treatment strategy for your cancer.
UT Southwestern Medical Center offers a range of evidence-based treatments for kidney cancer. They include:
- Surgery to remove either the cancerous part of a kidney (partial nephrectomy) or an entire kidney (radical nephrectomy). Learn more about surgery for genitourinary cancers.
- Complex surgery to treat some tumors. Some of these surgeries involve removing tumor extensions in the inferior vena cava, the primary vein that drains blood from most organs.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a localized therapy that destroys cancerous cells by heating them with high-frequency radio waves.
- Targeted therapies, which include drugs that attack kidney cancer at the molecular level, are classified into blockers of angiogenesis (which starve the tumor of blood) and blockers of the cellular protein mTOR (or mTORC1, a protein implicated in making proteins inside the cell). Angiogenesis blockers include drugs like sunitinib, sorafenib, pazopanib, axitinib, cabozantinib, and levantinib. mTORC1 blockers include 2 drugs: temsirolimus and everolimus.
- A key question is which are the cancers that are most likely to respond to a particular therapy. Investigators at UTSW were the first to discover that the gene TSC1, which regulates mTORC1, is mutated in clear cell RCC, and that it may predict for responsiveness to mTORC1 blockers (Kucejova et al., Mol Cancer Res, 2011).
- Arguably, the most important target for drug development in kidney cancer is the HIF-2 protein, a master switch in cancer cells. UTSW investigators, who were the first to discover HIF-2, identified a weakness in the protein that they successfully exploited to develop chemicals that can block HIF-2. This led to the founding of Peloton Therapeutics, a small biotech company located in the UTSW BioCenter, and the development of a first-in-class drug that blocks HIF-2. UTSW investigators showed that blocking HIF-2 is effective against 50 percent of human kidney cancers implanted in mice (Chen et al., Nature 2016). Importantly, the HIF-2 blocking drug is now in clinical trials at UTSW and elsewhere. Press Release
- Immunotherapy, which involves manipulating the patient’s immune system to attack the cancer cells, is a promising strategy. UT Southwestern offers the latest immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors (Nivolumab), as well as other proven treatments with a long track record, including interleukin-2 (IL-2), either alone or in combination with other therapies in clinical trials.
- UTSW investigators are leveraging Nobel prize-winning immunology research to develop new treatments for kidney cancer.
- Radiation therapy, a noninvasive and potentially definitive treatment that utilizes stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), pioneered at UT Southwestern to treat kidney cancer in different settings and currently being deployed for early-stage, inoperable, and metastatic kidney cancer, including tumors that extend into the veins. It also includes Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), a technique that allows physicians to directly treat during surgery the areas at highest risk of recurrence.
UT Southwestern conducts clinical trials that are carefully selected by a team of experts and aimed at improving the treatment of kidney cancer. Talk with your doctor to see if a clinical trial might be right for you.
Request an Appointment
To schedule a visit with a kidney cancer specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.