Are there treatments to stop the cancer coming back?

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Treatment can be given after surgery to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back. These are called adjuvant treatments. Adjuvant therapy aims to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery to remove the tumour. Even if your surgery was successful at removing all visible cancer, microscopic cancer cells can sometimes remain. They cannot be seen by the naked eye and are undetectable with current methods.

An adjuvant immunotherapy treatment (pembrolizumab) has been approved by the NHS for kidney cancer patients who are at higher risk of the cancer returning after surgery. Targeted therapies, such as sunitinib, sorafenib and pazopanib, have failed to show a benefit for patients and have not helped to stop the cancer from coming back.

Cancer Research UK: Kidney cancer

Macmillan: Kidney cancer

NHS: Kidney cancer

European Association of Urology (EAU) Renal Cell Carcinoma guidelines: 7. Disease management

Further reading: Action Kidney Cancer Essential guide: Surgery for kidney cancer

Updated: October 2023                                                                                                                      Next review: October 2025

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