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The most common type of kidney cancer

About 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma or RCC) each year.

SUTENT is approved to treat the portion of patients whose cancer is advanced.

How RCC starts and spreads

Cancer cells are abnormal versions of healthy cells. They grow in many ways like these normal cells, but do so at abnormal rates with irregular shapes.

Here is how these cells grow and spread:

  • A single RCC cell grows and divides to form 2 cells. These 2 cells divide to form 4 cells. This process repeats, again and again
  • Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells do not respond to your body’s cues telling them to stop growing
  • tumor can be detected once enough cancer cells are made
  • Some cancer cells may enter the bloodstream, spreading from the kidney to other parts of the body
  • New tumors may arise in other organs. If this happens, the cancer is known as metastatic. But no matter where the cancer spreads, it will still be called RCC, because it started in the kidney

RCC starts in the kidney. It can start as 1 or more tumors in a single kidney. Less often, tumors form in both kidneys at the same time.

Stages of renal cell carcinoma

There are 4 stages of RCC. To determine the cancer’s stage, doctors will measure the tumor size. If you don’t know the size or stage of your tumor, ask your doctor.

Stage
Definition
Stage I Tumor is found only in the kidney and is 7 centimeters or smaller.
Stage II Tumor is found only in the kidney and is larger than 7 centimeters.
Stage III Cancer may be found in the kidney, one nearby lymph node, an adrenal gland, the tissue around the kidney, or the main blood vessels of the kidneys.
Stage IV Cancer has spread beyond the kidney and may be found in multiple nearby lymph nodes or other organs, such as the intestines, pancreas, or lungs.
Recurrent Recurrent RCC is cancer that has returned after it has been treated—coming back in the kidney and/or in other parts of the body after the first treatment.
Images are not actual size

The images below are examples of different tumor sizes.

Golf ball (5 cm)      Tennis ball (7 cm)

Some potential treatments to consider

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

These can include:

Surgery
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.

Radiation therapy
Uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Radiation is typically used to ease the pain and symptoms of kidney cancer.

Chemotherapy
Uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. There are some chemotherapy medicines available to patients with RCC, but not many, and these are not a standard treatment for kidney cancer. Because other cells in the body also divide very quickly (bone marrow cells and hair follicles, for example), these cells are also often affected by chemotherapy. This can lead to certain side effects.

Biologics
Sometimes known as “biotherapy” or “immunotherapy.” Biologics use substances made in a lab or by the body to boost the immune system, or to help fight off or destroy cancer cells.

Other drugs that inhibit a specific or unique feature of cancer cells
Drug therapy that treats kidney cancer in a few different ways. SUTENT is one of those therapies; it blocks an enzyme and keeps tumors from making their own blood vessels, which are needed to deliver oxygen and other nutrients to help them survive and grow. In so doing, SUTENT can slow cancer growth and prevent the spread of cancer cells. SUTENT is not a cure, and not all patients will experience the same results.

SUTENT results

SUTENT has been proven effective in the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC)

A clinical trial proved that SUTENT is more effective than interferon alfa, another approved treatment option for advanced RCC. Learn about the results of this trial below.

More than twice the time without progression

Patients treated with SUTENT lived more than twice the number of months without progression compared to patients taking interferon alfa.

5 times more patients saw their tumors shrink

5 times as many patients on SUTENT saw their tumors shrink (103 patients treated with SUTENT compared to 20 taking IFNα).

The data represent an average. SUTENT is not a cure, and not all patients will experience the same results.