Chemotherapy to Treat Kidney Cancer

Chemotherapy uses chemical agents to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Unfortunately, RCC has proven to be particularly resistant to chemotherapy. Research to develop more effective chemotherapy drugs to treat RCC is ongoing, however, and a number of them are currently being tested.

Drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat advanced RCC include sorafenib (Nexavar), sunitinib (Sutent), temsirolimus (Torisel), everolimus (Afinitor), bevacizumab (Avastin), and pazopanib (Votrient). In January 2012, axitinib (Inlyta) was approved for advanced renal cell carcinoma that has not responded to other treatments.

These drugs may slow progressive of the disease and increase survival time in some patients. They should be used with caution in patients who have high blood pressure (hypertension), heart or liver problems, bleeding disorders, or other kidney problems.

Side effects include rash, fatigue, mouth sores, diarrhea, and nausea. These medications can cause birth defects and women should not become pregnant within two weeks of taking them. According to the FDA in August 2014, patients using Inlyta should be monitored for heart failure.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015