The UCLA Kidney Cancer Program team of physicians, surgeons and clinical professionals are world-renowned experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of the broad spectrum of kidney cancer - from localized tumors to the most complicated metastatic, or advanced, kidney cancers. Based on a patient's medical history, a thorough physical examination and the results of diagnostic tests, a UCLA Kidney Cancer Program oncologist is available to discuss individualized treatment options and the expected results of the treatment.
There are numerous factors that are considered in assessing which kidney cancer treatment option is best suited for a patient, such as medical history, current health condition, clinical and diagnostic test results and patient preference. Other factors that are taken into account are the tumor size, location and stage of the disease. Based on the final assessment, your doctor will recommend an individualized treatment plan that may include surgery, tumor ablation, embolization, or surveillance. Some patients will benefit from a combined approach that may include surgical removal in addition to targeted therapy, immunotherapy, research protocols or chemotherapy.
Kidney cancer treatment options after a diagnosis have expanded dramatically. For localized kidney cancer, clinical characteristics often dictate the modality of treatment. These include open partial or radical nephrectomy, laparoscopic partial or radical nephrectomy (including robot-assisted), and ablative procedures. When clinically appropriate, laparoscopic surgery provides a minimally-invasive approach that can sometimes be associated with less pain medication requirements and a shorter hospital stay and overall recovery. Cryotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are thermoablative procedures that can be employed in carefully selected patients.
For advanced kidney cancer, specialized chemotherapeutic agents may be used in conjunction with surgery. In 1992 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a novel immunotherapy called interleukin-2 (IL-2) for the treatment of clinically advanced kidney cancer. This demonstrated a survival advantage in a select group of patients, but was also associated with significant side effects. IL-2 was shortly followed by interferon-alpha (IFN-). Beginning in 2005 with the approval of sorafenib (Nexavar), a new class of targeted chemotherapeutic agents was introduced, opening the door to significant disease-free states with fewer side effects than IL-2 or IFN-. These new agents can be easily administered, often orally in the form of a pill. Although these therapies have only been FDA approved for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer, there are clinical trials investigating their use as a treatment for high-risk localized kidney cancer patients (patients who are identified as being at a higher risk of developing recurrent kidney disease), as well as in combination with immunotherapy.
For kidney cancer patients in whom surgery alone or in combination with one of the established medication regimens is not curative, enrolling in a clinical trial can offer access to cutting-edge treatments even before they are released into widespread practice.
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The Department of Urology at UCLA is one of the most progressive and comprehensive urology programs in the country. Our faculty members work side by side with research scientists for new cures and treatments for kidney cancer.