By understanding the genetic make up and signaling pathways for kidney cancer cells, clinicians can “put on the breaks” for tumor growth. Since 2005, nine agents have been approved that are known to stop the development/recruitment of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and thus prohibit tumor progression. Many of these agents are oral and can be safely given and allow patients to maintain an excellent quality of life.
There are numerous advantages to these newer therapies. They can often be easily administered orally in the form of a pill. They are generally well tolerated and produce fewer side effects than traditional therapies. Although these therapies have only been FDA approved for the treatment of metastatic kidney cancer; there are several clinical trials investigating their use as a treatment for patients who are identified as being at a higher risk of developing recurrent kidney disease. We are also investigating their use in combination with immunotherapy.
For kidney cancer patients in whom surgery alone or in combination with one of the established medication regimens is not curative, enrolling in a clinical trial can offer access to cutting-edge treatments even before they are released into widespread practice.