Side effects of targeted therapies for kidney cancer

Each type of targeted therapy drug has its own side effects. The most common side effects include:

Your cancer doctor or cancer nurse specialist will give you information about the likely side effects of your treatment. They will also tell you what can be done to control and manage side effects.

Targeted therapies can interact with some prescribed medicines. You should always get your GP or hospital doctor to check before you start treatment.

Let your doctor and specialist nurse know if you are having problems so that they can give you help and advice.

We have information about individual targeted therapy drugs, how they are given and their side effects.

All the targeted therapy drugs we’ve listed are licensed to treat kidney cancer and can be used in the UK. But, not all of them are widely available through the NHS. Some people have targeted therapy as part of a clinical trial.

Sunitinib and pazopanib are approved for use in the NHS as possible first drug treatments for kidney cancer. Axitinib is approved as a treatment that can be taken if the first targeted therapy drug isn’t working. This is called second-line treatment.

In Scotland, everolimus has also been approved as a second-line treatment or can be used as a third-line treatment after axitinib.

If a drug isn’t routinely available through the NHS, your specialist may apply to the health board for individual funding for a drug. If you live in England, some new drugs are available through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). For example, everolimus is available through the CDF for people who have had one previous targeted therapy drug. We have more information on what you can do if a treatment isn’t available.

Your specialist will tell you if they think any of these drugs are suitable for you.

There are several clinical trials looking into the most effective ways of using targeted therapies to treat kidney cancer. We have further information about clinical trials.

Back to Targeted (biological) therapies explained