Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is one of the 10 most prevalent cancer types among men and women. The disease, also known as renal cancer, can affect anyone, though most patients are diagnosed in their 60s or 70s. For reasons we don’t yet understand, kidney cancer is particularly prevalent in Texas.

Our kidney cancer program is a national hub for treatment and research in the U.S. Our physicians are international experts in urology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, genetics, and pathology. We continually develop new treatment approaches, and our survival rates for stage IV patients are double national benchmarks. Learn more about our research.

UT Southwestern is one of two institutions in the U.S., alongside Harvard, to ever receive a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) award from the National Cancer Institute for kidney cancer.

Advanced Treatments for Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer treatment depends on tumor size, cancer stage, overall health, and preferences. Our physicians always opt for the most effective and least invasive treatments from our wide range of options. Learn more about our treatment options.

Request an appointment online with a kidney cancer specialist, or call 214-645-8300.

Active Monitoring

About 80 percent of kidney cancers are detected by chance during treatment for another health problem, such as a CT scan for abdominal pain. These tumors often are so small that they don’t require immediate treatment. In fact, 30 percent of small kidney tumors never grow, and when they do, it’s typically no more than one-tenth of an inch per year.

To avoid unnecessary surgery, or radiation, patients can participate in our active monitoring program. Every six months, you’ll come in for abdominal imaging to look for changes in the size, shape, or composition of the tumor. Learn more about how we treat small kidney tumors.

Kidney Cancer Surgery

Larger tumors usually need to be surgically removed. When it’s safe, we use robotic surgery because of its many benefits over traditional surgery, which include:

  • Smaller keyhole incisions
  • Less pain and scarring
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Ability to save more of the kidney

Our kidney cancer robotic surgery program is the largest in North Texas. We perform 250-300 nephrectomies or partial nephrectomies per year, which places us among the highest-volume kidney cancer programs in the region. Larger volumes mean more experience and lower complication rates. Learn more about how we treat large kidney tumors.

Radiation Therapy

Surgery may not be an option for some patients. In some patients, we can use stereotactic ablative radiation (SABR) to target and kill cancer cells. Kidney cancer is proven to respond much better to SABR than to traditional radiation therapy. As for surgery, vast experience with radiation ensures that our patients get the best treatment with low complication rates.  

We’re actively researching new ways to combine SABR with other treatment approaches. One such development is I-SABR, a combination of SABR and immunotherapy. This approach uses radiation as a vaccine – SABR treatment of one metastasis leads to killing of the cancer cells and releasing of their contents so the immune system becomes better able to recognize cancer cells throughout the body. Learn more about stereotactic radiation and our I-SABR research.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy involves resetting the immune system to attack and kill cancer cells, much in the same way as it already recognizes bacteria or viruses. Building on Nobel-prize winning immunology research, our program is developing new approaches to treat kidney cancer using immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is the most promising treatment strategy to achieve a cure in patients that have kidney cancer that has spread. Current immunotherapy strategies block signals from the tumor that “turn off” the immune cells. Learn more about kidney cancer and immunotherapy. 

Advancing Treatment Options through Clinical Trials

Clinical trials offer kidney cancer patients the newest, most promising treatment strategies while simultaneously helping advance the field to develop better treatments for the future. Talk with your doctor to determine if a clinical trial is right for you.

Find a clinical trial for your tumor type and stage of cancer.

Meet the Team