What are the Causes of Kidney Cancer?

While the exact cause is unknown, the following may increase your risk of kidney cancer:

  • Dialysis treatment
  • A family history of the disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Horseshoe kidney
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Smoking
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease, a hereditary disease that affects blood vessels in the brain, eyes and other body parts

How is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?

Physicians may use the following tests to confirm a diagnosis of kidney cancer:

  • Complete medical history
  • Physical exam
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • PET scan

Your physician also may order blood tests to help determine the diagnosis, including a complete blood count (CBC), liver function and tumor markers.

Treatment for Kidney Cancer

Targeted Therapies or Immunotherapy

Targeted therapies target the cancer at the cellular level and have expanded the options for kidney cancer treatment.


Immunotherapy, sometimes called biologic therapy, boosts the body's own immune defenses and is considered one of the standard treatment options for advanced metastatic kidney cancer.

The building blocks of immunotherapy are biologic response modifiers (BRMs), which enhance the body's immune system and improve its ability to fight cancer. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferons are important BRMs.

Kidney Cancer Medications

Newer medications for kidney cancer treatment include sorafenib (Nexavar®), sunitinib (Sutent®), temsirolimus (Torisel®), everolimus (Afinitor®), pazopanib (Votrient®), axitinib (Inlyta®) and bevacizumab (Avastin®).

Other Treatments

Other traditional but less-often-used treatments include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is usually ineffective for renal cell carcinoma and not often used. Several investigational therapies, including vaccine therapy, are also available through clinical trials.

Why Choose Memorial Hermann for Treatment?

Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers are accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC). This rare distinction is given to cancer programs that uphold the highest standard of care for patients. When you choose Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers for your cancer treatment, you can rest assured you will receive the best possible care delivered by a compassionate team of caregivers in a calm, healing environment.

Contact Us

For more information about Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, including how to get connected to our support services or an affiliated provider, please call (833) 770-7771 or fill out the form below to be connected to one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators.


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If you need more immediate assistance, please call us during business hours at (833) 770-7771. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.