If it is only in the kidneys, which is about 40% of cases, it can be cured roughly 90% of the time with surgery. If it has spread outside of the kidneys, often into the lymph nodes or the main vein of the kidney, then it must be treated with chemotherapy and other treatments.
- Surgical removal of all or part of the kidney (nephrectomy) is recommended. This may include removal of the bladder or surrounding tissues or lymph nodes.
- Radiation therapy does not usually work for renal cell carcinoma and, therefore, is not often used. Hormone treatments may reduce the growth of the tumor in some cases.
- Medications such as alpha-interferon and interleukin have been successful in reducing the growth of some renal cell carcinomas, including some that have spread. In December 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a new type of drug called Nexavar for adults with advanced renal cell carcinoma. The drug works by blocking a tumor's blood supply.
- Chemotherapy may be used in some cases, but cure is unlikely unless all the cancer is removed with surgery.