Adjuvant Therapy for Kidney Cancer

What is Adjuvant Therapy?

Adjuvant therapy is treatment designed to reduce the chances of cancer coming back after a primary treatment, such as surgery.

The majority of kidney cancer patients (> 75%) will be diagnosed with localized disease, cancer that is confined to the kidney. The standard of care for these patients is usually surgical removal of the tumor. For most patients, surgery is curative. But around 30 percent of patients will face recurrent disease after surgery.

Many kidney cancer patients are surprised to learn that they won’t be getting additional treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiation) after surgery for a localized primary tumor. In kidney cancer, research is still ongoing to develop better post-surgical treatments to help prevent or delay recurrence for patients who are considered to be at high risk.

There are two FDA approved adjuvant treatments for patients at high risk of recurrent kidney cancer. There also may be clinical trials that are open and enrolling. These treatments need to be initiated within a specific time period following surgery (usually no longer than three months).

The chart below lists treatment options available for adjuvant therapy for kidney cancer. If you have recently been diagnosed with kidney cancer that is confined to the kidney, ask your doctor about your risk of recurrence and whether you might be a candidate for this type of therapy.

  • Preventative treatment given after surgery is called adjuvant therapy. 
  • Preventative treatment given before surgery is called neoadjuvant therapy.
  • Preventative treatment given before and after surgery is called perioperative therapy.

Newly Diagnosed?

To connect with others who can share their experiences related to adjuvant therapy.

Adjuvant Therapy Options for Kidney Cancer

Sutent (sunitinib)
FDA approved
Stage 3 RCC and/or patients deemed at high risk of recurrence; FDA approvedAdjuvant sunitib is taken for one year, starting within 3 to 12 weeks after surgery.
Keytruda (pembrolizumab)Stage 2, grade 4, Stage 3 (all grades), Stage 4 (T4 tumors or pts with resection of metastatic lesions within 1 year of dx). FDA approvedAdjuvant pembrolizumab (infusion therapy) should be initiated within 4 to 12 weeks following surgery and continue for up to one year.

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment for a specific medical condition. You should not use information on this website to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease and should consult with a qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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