A stage IV kidney cancer or metastatic cancer means that cancer or tumor has spread outside the kidney to other parts of the body such as distant lymph nodes, liver, lung or bladder. The best treatment options for stage IV kidney cancer are subject to how extensive cancer is and depend on the person’s general health. Advanced metastatic kidney cancer treatment options include either surgery or systemic therapy or a combination of these treatment options.
The surgery for Stage IV kidney cancer treatment is called radical nephrectomy. This includes removing the entire affected kidney, any adjacent lymph nodes or major blood vessels and the attached adrenal gland. However, this treatment option is available only when the main tumor seems removable and cancer has only spread locally (e.g. one or a few spots in the lungs). In such cases, removing one or both the kidneys along with the metastasis (that is, the area where cancer has spread) is a viable treatment option. In cases, where the main tumor is removable but cancer has spread to distant metastases, the surgery is followed by systemic treatments like targeted therapies and immunotherapies.
Unlike surgery that is a local therapy and treats cancer in specific areas, systemic therapies are used to treat cancer that has spread throughout the body. Systemic treatment options for metastatic kidney cancer include:
- Targeted Therapy – This is designed to treat only cancer cells, minimizing damage to normal, healthy cells. Targeted therapies for Stage IV kidney cancer treatment include oral drugs like Sutent, Votrient, Lenvima and IV drugs like Avastin and Torisel with varying degree of success.
- Immunotherapy – This stimulates the immune system to fight cancer. The two most frequently used types of immunotherapy are Proleukin (interleukin-2) and Alfa interferon.
- Chemotherapy – This treatment involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and may consist of single drugs or combinations of drugs. These can be administered through a vein or delivered orally as a pill. Stage IV kidney cancer, however, has been found resistant to chemotherapy with a relatively poor prognosis.