Treatments for Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)


Find the best treatment for you

Depending on the stage of the cancer, several treatments may be available.

These can include:


If RCC is confined to just one kidney, it can be removed through surgery. The surgery may also involve removing the bladder, lymph nodes, and surrounding tissues.

Chemotherapy or radiation

There are some chemotherapy medicines available to people with RCC, but not many. Radiation therapy may also be used. Neither is particularly effective against RCC.


These therapies use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Interferons are one type of biologic.

Anti-angiogenesis therapy

SUTENT is a therapy that blocks 2 basic actions of cancer. SUTENT may slow or in some cases may stop cancer's progression. SUTENT may also help shrink some tumors. SUTENT is not a cure and not all patients will experience the same result.

ask your doctor about
your treatment options

It's important to form a strong relationship with your doctor.
Read about how you can build on that relationship and others.

SUTENT has been proven effective in treating advanced RCC

A clinical study has proven that SUTENT is more effective than interferon alfa (IFNα), another approved treatment option for RCC. Learn about
the results of this study on the next page.

SUTENT is used to treat advanced kidney cancer (advanced renal cell carcinoma or RCC).

*SUTENT is used to treat GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor). This is a rare cancer of the stomach, bowel, or esophagus. SUTENT is used when the medicine Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) did not stop the cancer from growing, or when you cannot take Gleevec.

SUTENT is used to treat a type of pancreatic cancer known as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pancreatic NET), that has progressed and cannot be treated with surgery.


SUTENT can cause serious liver problems, including death.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you develop any of the following signs and symptoms of liver problems during treatment with SUTENT:

  • Itching
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Dark urine
  • Pain or discomfort in the right upper stomach area

Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your liver function before you start taking SUTENT and during treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding:

  • SUTENT may harm an unborn baby. You should not become pregnant while taking SUTENT. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while taking SUTENT
  • Do not breastfeed while taking SUTENT

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription medicines and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Using SUTENT with certain other medicines can cause serious side effects. You may have an increased risk of severe jaw bone problems (osteonecrosis) if you take SUTENT and a bisphosphonate medicine (Actonel, Aredia, Boniva, Didronel, Fosamax, Reclast, Skelid, or Zometa). Talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new medicines.

Tell all of your healthcare providers and dentists that you are taking SUTENT. They should talk to the healthcare provider who prescribed SUTENT for you, before you have any surgery, or medical or dental procedure.

SUTENT may cause serious side effects, including:

  • Serious liver problems, including death
  • Heart problems—Heart problems may include heart failure and heart muscle problems (cardiomyopathy) that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider if you feel very tired, are short of breath, or have swollen feet and ankles
  • Abnormal heart rhythm changes—Your healthcare provider may do electrocardiograms and blood tests to watch for these problems during your treatment with SUTENT. Tell your healthcare provider if you feel dizzy, faint, or have abnormal heartbeats
  • High blood pressure—Your healthcare provider may check your blood pressure during treatment with SUTENT. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for you to treat high blood pressure, if needed
  • Bleeding sometimes leading to death—Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms or a serious bleeding problem:
    • Painful, swollen stomach (abdomen)
    • Bloody urine
    • Vomiting blood
    • Headache or change in your mental status
    • Black, sticky stools
    Your healthcare provider can tell you other symptoms to watch for.
  • Jaw-bone problems (osteonecrosis)—Severe jaw bone problems may happen. Your healthcare provider should examine your mouth before you start SUTENT. Your healthcare provider may tell you to see your dentist before you start SUTENT
  • Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS)—TLS is caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells and may lead to death. TLS may cause you to have nausea, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, clouding of urine and tiredness associated with abnormal laboratory test results (high potassium, uric acid and phosphorus levels and low calcium levels in the blood) that can lead to changes in kidney function and acute kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check you for TLS
  • Protein in your urine—Your healthcare provider will check you for this problem. If there is too much protein in your urine, your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking SUTENT
  • Serious skin and mouth reactions—SUTENT can cause serious skin reactions that can cause death. This can include rash, widespread blistering or peeling of the skin and blistering and peeling on the inside of your mouth. If you develop a rash or these skin symptoms, tell your healthcare provider immediately. Your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking SUTENT
  • Hormone problems, including thyroid and adrenal gland problems—Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your thyroid and adrenal gland function during SUTENT treatment. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following signs and symptoms:
    • Tiredness that worsens and does not go away
    • Fast heart rate
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight gain or weight loss
    • Heat intolerance
    • Feeling depressed
    • Feeling nervous or agitated, tremors
    • Irregular menstrual periods or no menstrual periods
    • Sweating
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Hair loss
    • Diarrhea


Common side effects of SUTENT include:

  • The medicine in SUTENT is yellow, and it may make your skin look yellow. Your skin and hair may get lighter in color
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, upset stomach, abdominal pain, and constipation. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to handle these problems
  • Rash or other skin changes, including drier, thicker, or cracking skin
  • Blisters or a rash on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet
  • Taste changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain or swelling in your arms or legs
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bleeding, such as nosebleeds or bleeding from cuts

Call your healthcare provider if you have any swelling or bleeding during treatment with SUTENT.

Gleevec is a registered trademark of Novartis AG.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or
call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see patient Medication Guide and full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning regarding serious liver problems.

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Adrenal gland
One of a pair of small glands; one sits on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands produce hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, the way the body uses food, and other vital functions.
Angiogenesis (an-jee-o-JEN-ih-sis)
The growth of new blood vessels from existing ones. Tumors use this process to receive nutrients from the bloodstream and to metastasize.
Cardiomyopathy (kahr-dee-oh-my-OP-uh-thee)
A disease that weakens and enlarges your heart muscle and makes it harder for your heart to pump blood and deliver it to the rest of your body.
Cancer cells grow and multiply like normal cells, but often much more quickly. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop these cells from multiplying. However, chemotherapy can also harm healthy cells.
Digestive system
A collection of organs that break down food into simpler components, which your body uses to make energy and repair cells.
Functional pancreatic NET
A type of tumor in the pancreas that overproduces hormones.
Gastrointestinal (GASS-tro-in-TESS-tin-nul)
Relating to your stomach and intestines.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
(GASS-tro-in-TESS-tin-nul STRO-mul TOO-mor)
GIST is a cancer that occurs in the digestive system. It can grow at all levels of the gastrointestinal tract (though most often in the stomach and small intestine).
Hand-foot syndrome (hand-foot-SIN-drome)
Dryness, thickening, or cracking of the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It can sometimes include blisters or a rash.
Hypertension (hy-per-TEN-shun)
A disease of the arteries involving constant high blood pressure.
Intravenous therapy (IV)
Treatment given directly into a vein.
IFNα (Interferon alfa)
A medicine prescribed to prevent tumor cells or viruses from growing. A clinical study has proven that SUTENT is more effective than interferon alfa (IFNα) in the treatment of RCC.
One of a pair of organs that removes waste products from the blood. In the process, they make urine to help carry waste out of the body. One is on the left side of the abdomen. The other is on the right side.
Lymph node
Located throughout the body, lymph nodes filter lymph fluid. They store special cells that can trap cancer cells or bacteria that are traveling through the body in the lymph.
Metastasis (muh-TAHS-tuh-sis)
The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another through the lymphatic system or bloodstream.
Nonfunctional pancreatic NET
A type of tumor in the pancreas that does not overproduce hormones.
A 6-inch-long organ that stretches across the back of the abdomen. It makes pancreatic juices, which help digest food in the small intestine. The pancreas also makes insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (Pancreatic NET)
An uncommon tumor that starts in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas.
Progression-free survival
The length of time during and after treatment in which a patient is living with a disease that does not get worse. Progression-free survival may be used in a clinical study or trial to help find out how well a new treatment works.
Proliferation (pro-liff-er-AY-shun)
When cells divide and multiply quickly. Tumors form when cancer cells proliferate.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) (REE-null SELL kar-sin-O-muh)
The most common form of cancer that starts in the kidneys.
The tissue that supports an organ.
Tumor (TOO-mor)
A mass of cancer cells.
The SUTENT Co-payment Card is not health insurance. For a complete list of participating pharmacies, please call the First Resource program at 1-877-744-5675. There are no membership fees to participate. Estimated savings vary and depend on the amount of SUTENT purchased and the pharmacy where purchased.

Average patient savings is $5000.

Assistance for eligible patients who reside in Massachusetts will still be available through the First Resource program. These patients will continue to receive SUTENT free of charge under Hardship Assistance. Terms and conditions apply. Speak with a First Resource counselor to learn more.

Pfizer and its agents cannot guarantee the accuracy of information provided by insurers, nor do they guarantee insurance reimbursement. Because many factors influence reimbursement, program staff cannot anticipate or resolve all issues raised by program callers. Pfizer reserves the right to modify or discontinue the program, without notice, at any time.