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.

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 primary tumor. In kidney cancer, research is ongoing to develop better treatments to help prevent or delay recurrence for patients who are considered to be at high risk.

Currently, there is one FDA approved adjuvant therapy for kidney cancer. There are also multiple 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, neoadjuvant and preoperative therapy for kidney cancer. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, ask your doctor whether you might be a candidate.

adjuvant/neoadjuvant
  • 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.

Adjuvant Therapy Options for Kidney Cancer

TreatmentWhoWhereWhen
Sutent (sunitinib)
FDA approved
Stage 3 RCC and/or patients deemed at high risk of recurrence; FDA approved; U.S. patients should ask their doctor if they are a candidateAdjuvant sunitib is taken for one year, starting within 3 to 12 weeks after surgery.
Opdivo (nivolumab) vs. Close Observation; Phase 3 Clinical Trial (Prosper)Clear cell and non-clear cell RCC patients, who have renal masses consistent with Stage 2 and Stage 3 disease; who have not yet had surgery.Enrolling in 42 U.S. states and Israel
Patients enrolled in the treatment arm will receive nivolumab prior to nephrectomy and for an additional 9 cycles following surgery.
Opdivo+Yervoy (nivolumab+ipilimumab) vs. placebo; Phase 3 Clinical Trial (Checkmate 914);Clear Cell RCC - Tumors > 7 cm AND grade 3 or 4 or Tumors > 10 cm or Stage 3 - any grade.Enrolling in 19 U.S. states and 19 countries worldwide.Patients in the treatment arm receive infusions of combination immunotherapy for 24 weeks following surgery.
Durvalumab + Tremelimumab vs. close observation; Phase 3 Clinical Trial (Rampart)All cell types for RCC except collecting duct and RMC; Leibovich (SSIGN) score of 3 or higher. Enrolling in the UK

Patients in the treatment arms will receive either treatment for one year following surgery.
Sitravatinib + Opdivo (nivolumab); Phase 2 clinical trial Clear cell RCC patients who have not had surgery and have renal masses > 10 cm and/or T3a or T3bEnrolling in Houston, TXPatients will receive treatment for 4 to 6 weeks prior to surgery only.
Durvalumab + Tremelimumab
Phase 1 clinical trial
Clear cell and non-clear cell RCC patients who have not had surgery and have renal masses >10 cm, T3a,b,c, or N+Enrolling in Cleveland, OHPatients will receive treatment before surgery and 4-6 weeks following surgery

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