NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017
Overview of cancer treatments
As a kidney tumor grows larger, it can cause severe
symptoms such as pain and blood in the urine.
Surgery to remove the kidney may be used to relieve
these symptoms. This surgery is called a palliative
Palliative surgery may be used to treat problems
caused by cancer that has spread to your bones.
Such problems may include bone pain, bone
fractures, and spinal cord compression.
Stress and symptom control
Cancer and its treatments can cause bothersome
symptoms. The stress of having cancer can also
cause symptoms. There are ways to treat many
symptoms, so tell your treatment team about any that
You may lose sleep before, during, and after
treatment. Getting less sleep can affect your
mood, conversations, and ability to do daily tasks.
If possible, allow yourself to rest, let people do
things for you, and talk with your doctor about sleep
medication. Behavioral sleep medicine—a type of
talk therapy—may also help.
Feelings of anxiety and depression are common
among people with cancer. At your cancer center,
cancer navigators, social workers, and other experts
can help. Help can include support groups, talk
therapy, or medication. Some people also feel better
by exercising, talking with loved ones, or relaxing.
You may be unemployed or miss work during
treatment. Or, you may have too little or no health
insurance. Talk to your treatment team about work,
insurance, or money problems. They will include
information in the treatment plan to help you manage
your finances and medical costs.
Cancer survivorship begins on the day you learn of
having kidney cancer. For many survivors, the end of
active treatment signals a time of celebration but also
of great anxiety. This is a very normal response. You
may need support to address issues that arise from
not having regular visits with your cancer care team.
In addition, your treatment plan should include a
schedule of follow-up cancer tests, treatment of long-
term side effects, and care of your general health.
Advance care planning
Talking with your doctor about your prognosis can
help with treatment planning. If the cancer can’t be
controlled or cured, a care plan for the end of life can
be made. However, such talks often happen too late
or not at all. Your doctor may delay these talks for
fear that you may lose hope, become depressed, or
have a shorter survival. Studies suggest that these
fears are wrong. Instead, there are many benefits to
advance care planning. It is useful for:
Knowing what to expect
Making the most of your time
Lowering the stress of caregivers
Having your wishes followed
Having a better quality of life
Getting good care
Advance care planning starts with an honest talk
between you and your doctors. You don’t have
to know the exact details of your prognosis. Just
having a general idea will help with planning. With
this information, you can decide at what point you’d
want to stop cancer treatments, if at all. You can
also decide what treatments you’d want for symptom
relief, such as radiation therapy, surgery, or medicine.