Kidney Cancer Treatment

If tests show that you have kidney cancer, the Perlmutter Cancer Center offers several treatment options, including:

  • surgery to remove the tumor and nearby affected tissues, with emphasis on techniques that preserve function
  • immunotherapy (the administration of substances that engage the immune system to fight cancer)
  • chemotherapy with novel targeted agents

Your doctor may recommend one of these approaches, or a combination of them, depending on your type of cancer and the extent of the tumor's growth and spread (the "stage" of the cancer). Perlmutter Cancer Center physicians can work with your personal physician to assure continuity of care.

Renal-Sparing Surgery

A main focus of our program is renal-sparing surgery for patients with small tumors, in which only a portion of the kidney containing the tumor is removed ("partial nephrectomy"), rather than the whole organ. For those requiring removal of the entire kidney, our surgeons can sometimes remove the kidney using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques that reduce the patient's hospital stay and recovery time.

Up to 60 percent of kidney cancer surgeries at the Perlmutter Cancer Center are laparoscopic. Given the expertise in laparoscopic renal surgery, many patients with large primary tumors who would require aggressive surgery through a large open incision elsewhere are able to undergo a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure at the Perlmutter Cancer Center. Surgeons at NYU pioneered the procedure of minimally invasive partial nephrectomy by laparoscopy or robotic surgery. The Perlmutter Cancer Center now has one of the nation's largest programs performing minimally invasive partial nephrectomy.

For patients with large or advanced tumors that cannot be removed using minimally invasive techniques, Perlmutter Cancer Center surgeons carry great expertise and experience in complex renal surgery. Tumors that invade into surrounding structures or blood vessels are removed routinely with low risk of complication. In such patients, we utilize a combined approach of surgery followed by biologic immune therapies or vaccinations that train the patient's immune system to destroy residual cancer cells.

When patients have too many medical illnesses to have aggressive surgery, we offer cryoablation to freeze the tumor and kill cancer cells.


The Perlmutter Cancer Center participates in clinical trials of new treatments for recurrent or advanced kidney cancers, including national collaborative studies. We also offer novel targeted chemotherapy agents that work by blocking the signals that cancer cells need to grow. One option is sunitinib, which inhibits the growth of blood vessels that tumors need to receive nutrition and to spread to other parts of the body. The drug may also slow the growth and division of cancer cells. Another choice is sorafenib, which works by stopping a signal made by cancer cells that they need to multiply and grow, and through inhibiting blood supply to cancer cells.

Kidney Cancer Support Services

The Perlmutter Cancer Center's Supportive Services Program features a staff of professionals skilled in psychiatry, social work, nutrition, genetic counseling, symptom management, palliative care, bereavement, survivorship/post-treatment issues, physical therapy, complementary therapies, caregivers’ issues, research, patient education, staff support and education, home care, patient assistance, and staff development. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 212-731-5480.