What happens after treatment?

Now that your treatment has ended you can focus on your recovery. Cancer can be life changing, so getting back to normal may take some time. It’s likely that you will have good days as well as bad. So try not to expect too much straight away.

You may find you go back to the routine you had before cancer treatment. Some people have lasting physical effects following cancer treatment. In this case, you may find it takes some time to adjust to a new routine.

To begin with, you will have a follow-up appointment to check your progress and to discuss any problems or concerns you may have. If you have any problems in between appointments always get in touch. Advice and support will be available to you even after treatment ends.

Many people decide to make positive lifestyle changes after finishing cancer treatment. This may include eating healthily, doing more exercise or giving up smoking.

Follow up

After treatment you’ll probably be keen to get back to doing the things you did before your cancer diagnosis. But you may still be coping with the side effects of treatment and with some difficult emotions. Recovery takes time, so be kind to yourself.

Our section on life after cancer treatment discusses how to adjust to life after treatment.

You’ll have regular check-ups at the hospital. Your doctor or specialist nurse will tell you how often and for how long you’ll need to have these. It will depend on the type of treatment you had and the risk of the cancer coming back. Some people will have regular tests to check for any signs of the cancer coming back. If cancer comes back in the kidney, it may be possible to have further surgery to remove it.

If you have any problems, or notice any new symptoms between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know as soon as possible.

After surgery to remove kidney cancer, many people find they worry about the cancer coming back. This is natural and it may help to get support from family or friends. Most people find the anxiety gets less as time passes.

Making healthy choices

After cancer treatment some people choose to make some positive lifestyle changes. It’s not to say you didn’t follow a healthy lifestyle before cancer, but you may be more focused on making the most of your health. We’ve included information here that may help you.

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

If you’ve had part or all of a kidney removed, it’s a good idea to look after your remaining kidney(s). Reducing your risk of high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes will help to protect your kidney.

Stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, giving up smoking is the healthiest decision you can make. Smoking is a major risk factor for smoking-related cancers, including kidney cancer, and for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Our section about giving up smoking has more information and tips to help you quit.

Eat healthily

Eating healthily will give you more energy and help you to recover. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day), and less red meat. Cut down on salt as it can raise blood pressure and make the kidney have to work harder. Follow any advice you have been given by a dietitian.

We have further information about healthy eating and cancer.

Drink plenty of water

Drink at least 2 litres (3 pints) of fluid a day. This will help protect your kidney. Plain water is best. Avoid bottled waters that are high in salts, such as sodium or potassium, as they make the kidney work harder.

Stick to sensible drinking

NHS guidelines suggest that both men and women should:

  • not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week
  • spread the alcohol units they drink in a week over three or more days
  • try to have several alcohol-free days every week.

A unit of alcohol is half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider, one small glass (125ml) of wine, or a single measure (25ml) of spirits.

There is more information about alcohol and drinking guidelines at drinkaware.co.uk

Medicines and supplements

Some painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can damage the kidney. 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 doesn’t always cause any symptoms but it can be bad for the kidneys. It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is raised, your doctor can prescribe tablets to control it.

Urine infections

Urine infections can usually be easily treated, but if they are ignored they can cause kidney problems. If you have symptoms of a urine infection, it’s important to see your GP. Possible symptoms can include smelly or cloudy urine, pain or burning when passing urine or feeling you have to go urgently as soon as you notice you need to pass urine.

Back to Treating

Making treatment decisions

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 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.

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.

Radiotherapy for kidney cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. It may relieve symptoms caused by kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

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.