After treatment for kidney cancer

After treatment for kidney cancer,, you may just want to get back to everyday life. But you may still be coping with the side effects of treatment or adjusting to physical changes. You may also be dealing with some difficult emotions. Recovery takes time, so do not rush. Try to be kind to yourself.

Some people choose to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and well-being. Even if you had a healthy lifestyle before cancer, you may be more focused on making the most of your health.

If you have health problems, such as kidney disease, it is important to check with your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

If you have had part or all of a kidney removed, it is a good idea to look after your remaining kidney or kidneys. Reducing your risk of high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes will help protect the kidneys.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, giving up is the healthiest decision you can make. Smoking is a major risk factor for smoking-related cancers, including kidney cancer. It also increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. If you want to stop, your GP can give you advice.

We have more information about giving up smoking.

Eat healthily

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will give you more energy and help you recover.

Try to eat 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. And try to eat less red meat.

Try to limit the amount of salt you eat. This is because salt can raise blood pressure and make the kidneys work harder. Follow any advice you have been given by a dietitian.

Drink plenty of water

Drink at least 2 litres (3½ pints) of non-alcoholic fluids a day. This helps protect the kidneys. Plain water is best. Avoid bottled waters that are high in salts, such as sodium or potassium, as they make the kidneys work harder.

Keep to sensible drinking guidelines

Sensible drinking guidelines recommend that you should not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week. Try to have a few alcohol-free days each week.

There is more information about alcohol and drinking guidelines at

Keep to a healthy weight

Keeping to a healthy weight reduces the risk of cancer. It also reduces the risk of heart and kidney problems and illnesses such as diabetes. Your GP can tell you what your healthy weight is.

If you need to lose weight, ask your GP for advice. You may also want to try:

We have more information about coping with weight gain after treatment.

Avoid high protein diets

If you are following a weight-loss diet, avoid high-protein diets. These can stress the kidney. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids.

Get help if you need to gain weight

If you have lost weight during treatment, your GP or a dietitian can give you advice about gaining weight.

We have more information about gaining weight and the building up diet.

Be physically active

Being physically active can:

  • help you manage your weight
  • reduce stress and tiredness
  • reduce the risk of other health conditions, such as diabetes.

It is important to avoid injury to your kidneys. You may have to avoid contact sports, such as rugby and football, and extreme sports such as skydiving.

Reduce stress

Being physically active, eating well and getting enough sleep can help reduce stress. Try to make time to do things that you enjoy or that make you laugh.

Some people find it relaxing to meditate or to start a new hobby. You may find it helpful to write a journal or blog.

Medicines and supplements

Some painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can damage the kidneys. Ask your doctor for advice before taking over-the-counter medicines or buying vitamin or mineral supplements.

Get your blood pressure checked regularly

High blood pressure does not always cause any symptoms. But it can be bad for the kidneys. It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is raised, your GP can prescribe tablets to control it.

Urine infections

Urine infections can usually be easily treated. But if they are ignored, they can cause problems with the kidneys. If you have symptoms of a urine infection, it is important to see your GP.

Symptoms include:

  • smelly or cloudy urine (pee)
  • pain or burning when passing urine
  • feeling you have to pass urine urgently.

We have more information on beginning to recover after cancer treatment

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our kidney cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    Escudier B, et al. Renal cell carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology 30: 706-720, 2019. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdz056 Published online 21 February 2019. Available from (accessed April 2021).

    European Association of Urology. Renal cell carcinoma guidelines. EAU Guidelines. Edn. presented at the EAU Annual Congress Milan 2021. ISBN 978-94-92671-13-4. Available from (accessed April 2021).

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): Nivolumab with ipilimumab for untreated advanced renal cell carcinoma. Technology appraisal guidance (TA581). Published 15 May 2019. Available from (accessed April 2021).

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Lisa Pickering, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 November 2021
Next review: 01 November 2024
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

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