Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer. The kidneys are where urine is made. When cancer forms inside a tube that helps transport urine, this is known as renal cell carcinoma. The risk factors are disease are fairly generalized – history of smoking, weight issue, family risk. Often the disease is not noticeable until it is at a more advanced stage when it is harder to treat. However due to recent treatment related breakthroughs, more than 75 percent of patients are living five years after diagnosis. Today’s standard treatment plan may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Clinical research for the disease is active with numerous trials looking at new immunotherapies, and drug combination options for patients whose disease has spread.
Treatment options depend on the staging of the cancer. For a local carcinoma that has not spread beyond the kidney, surgery is likely the primary form of treatment. This operations can range from removing just the cancerous cells, to the removal of the entire kidney. Additional treatments beyond surgery will depend on the degree of spread to other areas of the body. There are standard protocols that utilize multiple modalities to try and achieve the best outcome for the patient. Cancer centers with access to experimental therapies may have different options for renal cell patients, available through clinical trial enrollment. Many patients will look to larger centers for second opinions and to understand if any trials would be fit based on the patient profile or treatment goals.
Clinical research has demonstrated new and better ways of treating kidney cancer. One approach was based on findings that renal cell carcinomas were “particularly vascular” in their composition. A new drug type called an anti-angiogenic was developed to prevent blood vessels from reproducing in order to essentially starve the cancer. Angiogenesis inhibitors are often pointed to as helping increase life expectancy in kidney cancer patients. Another area that has helped improve the outlook for renal cell cancer is in the arena of immunotherapy, specifically, immune checkpoint inhibitors that prohibit cancerous cells from evading detection by the patient’s immune system. This is another advancement that has been folded into many standard protocols with ongoing clinical trials looking at how to further usage of the therapy.
According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 80,000 cases of renal cell carcinoma are diagnosed annually. For patients who are found to have disease that has spread or has returned, clinical research may provide the opportunity to enroll into a trial looking at a novel way of treating the disease. Want to learn more about research related to renal cell carcinoma? Register here to receive updates about recruiting trials and study opportunities related to kidney cancer.
A variety of articles on topics of interest to those diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma.