Radiotherapy for kidney cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. Kidney cancer does not respond to radiotherapy very well. But it can be effective when used to relieve symptoms, such as bleeding. It may also be used if the kidney cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain or the bones. This is called palliative radiotherapy.

We have more information about secondary bone cancer and secondary brain cancer.

The treatment is given in the hospital radiotherapy department. You usually have it as an outpatient. Radiotherapy is often given as sessions called fractions. If radiotherapy is given to relieve symptoms, it is usually given for a few minutes a day for a few days. Sometimes only one fraction is needed. Your doctor will discuss the treatment plan with you.

Side effects of radiotherapy

Radiotherapy can cause tiredness. Other side effects depend on the part of the body being treated. When radiotherapy is given to relieve symptoms, the side effects are usually mild. The doctor who plans your radiotherapy (clinical oncologist) or a specialist nurse will tell you what to expect. Usually side effects go away slowly when your course of treatment has finished. You should let your doctor know if they continue.

Radiotherapy explained

Consultant Clinical Oncologist Vincent Khoo describes external beam radiotherapy, how it works, and what it involves.

Information about our videos

Radiotherapy explained

Consultant Clinical Oncologist Vincent Khoo describes external beam radiotherapy, how it works, and what it involves.

Information about our videos

Back to Treating

Decisions about treatment

Your doctors may tell you there are different options for your treatment. Having the right information will help you make the right decision for you.

Surgery for kidney cancer

Surgery involves removing all or part of the cancer with an operation. It is an important treatment for many cancers.

Monitoring kidney cancer

Sometimes, active treatment may not be immediately necessary or appropriate. Doctors may suggest monitoring small, low-grade cancers.

Targeted (biological) therapies

Targeted (biological) therapies interfere with the way cells grow and divide. Find out how they may be used to treat kidney (renal) cancer.

Immunotherapies for kidney cancer

Immunotherapy drugs encourage the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat types of advanced kidney cancer.

Clinical trials

Many people are offered a trial as part of treatment. Find out more to help you decide if a trial is right for you.

Life after cancer treatment

You might be thinking about how to get back to normal following treatment. Find advice, information and support about coping with and after cancer.