Kidney Cancer

Each year at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, our kidney cancer experts treat more than 200 patients with kidney cancer. Our physicians are experienced in treating people with all subtypes of kidney cancer, including renal cell carcinoma (RCC), transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), renal sarcoma and Wilms tumors.   

Often, we are able to diagnose kidney cancer before it spreads, and treatment can leave many patients cancer-free. 

Fred Hutch: A Leader in Kidney Cancer Research

Our physicians do research through Fred Hutch and UW Medicine, which are both national leaders in kidney cancer research. Fred Hutch doctors have led the development of many of the newer approaches for metastatic kidney cancer approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and continue to do clinical trials of new therapies that are not yet available everywhere.

Over the years, Fred Hutch has led many clinical studies of new drugs for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) that have led to changes in the standard of care. In recent years, Fred Hutch research has developed new ways to make it less likely that cancer will return and to significantly slow down how fast the disease grows. 

Your First Appointment

Based on your exact needs, your first appointment will either be with the team in our Kidney Cancer Multispecialty Clinic (KCMC) or with a urologic oncologist or medical oncologist who specializes in kidney cancers.

From the first time you come to see us, your kidney cancer team will begin getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns?

At your first appointment, your care team will also explain your specific disease. They will tell you how it’s treated and which tests you need to help plan your individual care. Before you leave, your team will make sure you understand the next steps.

Learn About Kidney Cancer

Diagnosing kidney cancer involves a series of blood and urine tests as well as imaging tests — such as an ultrasound, X-ray, CT or MRI scans — to check the size of the tumor or spread of the cancer.

A tumor biopsy or tumor surgery gives us details about the stage of your kidney cancer.

Facts & Resources

Treatment for Kidney Cancer

People with different types of kidney cancer respond to treatments in different ways. You are unique, and your care team will offer treatment specifically for — and with — you.

At Fred Hutch, physicians with knowledge and experience in your subtype of kidney cancer will design your treatment plan and provide your care. This expert treatment includes both common and rare tumors that can sometimes appear in the kidneys.


Kidney Cancer Care Team

At Fred Hutch, we surround you with experts who focus completely on cancer care. A handful of people make up the core of your care team. You will have a physician and a registered nurse who are experienced in caring for people with kidney cancer.

At some visits, you might see an advanced practice provider. Most patients get part of their treatment from infusion nurses. A patient care coordinator will schedule your visits. 

Care Team

Care at Fred Hutch

Fred Hutch has specialists who are experts in the most effective therapies for kidney cancer, called the “standard of care,” which will give you the best chance at a full recovery. Most patients are diagnosed early with stage I (one) or stage II (two) kidney cancer. These patients usually have surgery to remove the tumor, and they have a high chance of success through treatment.

Some patients who are diagnosed with stage III (three) or stage IV (four) kidney cancer have surgery to remove the cancer, along with follow-up care like immunotherapies or targeted therapies that keep the cancer from coming back or slow down its growth.

More patients are living full lives with kidney cancer, and treatment for stage IV, or metastatic kidney cancer, is constantly improving. For example, research has shown that instead of having surgery, medications may be a better option for some patients.

Kidney Cancer Multispecialty Clinic 

At Fred Hutch’s Kidney Cancer Multispecialty Clinic (KCMC), patients with metastatic kidney cancer get multidisciplinary consultations and care to understand and access all the latest treatment options. 

Here, we guide you through complex treatment decisions and provide seamless, comprehensive care. Patients meet with specialists from all disciplines, all in the same day, at KCMC. Each treatment plan is created just for you and may include surgery, radiation, immunotherapies and/or targeted therapies.

Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can increase the effectiveness of kidney cancer treatments and reduce the side effects. Our clinical trials (also called clinical studies) deliver innovative therapies that are not available everywhere, and many of our past trials have become today’s standard of care.

Along with your physician and care team, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, registered dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We integrate supportive care services in your treatment and recovery to promote your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

caregiver with family member

Role of the Caregiver

When someone close to you is diagnosed with kidney cancer, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions and stress. 

At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your support makes a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.

Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.

Latest Treatments and Clinical Trials

Physicians and scientists from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine are testing new treatments for kidney cancer and discovering new ways to use current treatments. 

Through this work, we are looking for answers to two main questions: How can we do even better at controlling or curing kidney cancer? How can we make treatments easier on patients?

We have clinical trials for all stages of kidney cancer, from early to advanced. These trials are testing dozens of medicines for different kidney cancer subtypes. Therapies we are studying include:

  • Targeted therapies
  • Immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitors and cytokines
  • Antibody therapies
  • Cellular therapies, including tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL)

When your care team designs your treatment plan, they offer you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you decide to join a clinical trial, you will see the same doctors and nurses as you would for standard therapy.

Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a particular study and why. This can help you make the decision that is best for you.

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