Radiation Effective, Does Not Worsen Quality of Life in Kidney Cancer


Radiation is an emerging treatment modality in kidney cancer. Research shows that it is effective and helps patients maintain a good quality of life.

Stereotactic radiation — a method that involves administering multiple small doses of radiation to the precise location of a tumor — is an emerging and exciting treatment technique for patients with kidney cancer, explained Dr. Raquibul Hannan, Chief of the Genitourinary Radiation Oncology Service at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“We are really seeing very good local control rates with minimal toxicity,” Hannan said in an interview at the 2023 Kidney Cancer Research Summit. “So now that we have this new arsenal, the onus is really onto us to find the right application for it and how to integrate it into the multimodality management of kidney cancer.”

Hannan cited recent research that outlined the promise of stereotactic radiation for different kidney cancer indications. A recent phase 2 trial found that more than 90% of patients with localized primary kidney cancer with small renal masses experienced disease control, while another trial showed that nearly 60% of patients with tumor thrombus (cancer that is found in the major vein that drains to the kidney) responded, with nearly all study participants experiencing symptomatic relief.


It's a very new therapy because we are recently learning that it is effective and safe for kidney cancer patients. In both of the studies that I mentioned, the prospective trials, we actually did patient-reported outcome or quality-of-life surveys. Patients filled out the form before and after (treatment). And (in) both of the studies, we showed that radiation is not compromising their quality of life. So I think that is really important.

This stereotactic radiation just takes (a) few visits, sometimes (a) single visit or three visits or five visits. Each of them is about an hour and … there is no recovery from this. So patients are able to continue to do work, come on their lunch break, get radiation and go back to work. So in that setting, it is really, really good in terms of preserving quality of life.

In terms of another (or) additional therapies replacing it, I don't anticipate that, although we know, of course, surgical metastasectomy is possible and effective. It’s just that it is invasive, it does have recovery time and not all sites are accessible to surgery. Similarly, ablation, you could also consider that it would be possible to do or would make sense to do except, again, same thing — it is minimally invasive, and I don't anticipate that replacing the stereotactic radiation.

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