Treatment Programs

Kidney Cancer

Our team is experienced in the treatment of rare, inherited, and advanced forms of kidney cancer.

The Claire & John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary Cancers is one of the largest and most experienced centers in New England. Within this center, specialists diagnose and treat kidney cancers including:

Renal cell carcinoma, including:

  • Clear cell renal cell carcinoma
  • Papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma
  • Rare forms of renal cell carcinoma

As well as:

  • Transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis
  • Wilms tumor

We also offer experienced care for those with or at risk for inherited or rare forms of kidney cancers including von Hippel-Lindau disease.

Innovative ApproachesIn recent years, there have been exciting advances in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to kidney cancer. At the Cancer Center, we offer patients the most advanced treatment options available for all stages of kidney cancer. Recent advances in available treatment include:

  • A new class of targeted drugs that that inhibit tumor growth by blocking angiogenesis, or blood supply, to tumor cells
  • Another class of targeted drugs that block a growth pathway within cancer cells
  • Participation in national clinical trials of other new therapies to attack kidney cancer
  • “Nephron sparing” kidney surgery to preserve long-term kidney function
  • Radiology-based ablation procedures for nonsurgical therapy of kidney cancer
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures to treat early forms of kidney cancer

Multidisciplinary Patient CareNew patients are generally seen within two weeks of referral and sooner whenever urgent attention is needed. At your first appointment, you will meet the genitourinary cancer specialists who will be involved in your care, including:

  • Urologists and surgical oncologists experienced in the latest kidney cancer surgery approaches
  • Radiation oncologists who specialize in delivering the optimal therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Medical oncologists to discuss overall prognosis and review the available treatment approaches

In addition, you may also see:

  • Pathologists specializing in urologic cancers
  • Radiologists specializing in genitourinary cancer imaging
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in cancer care
  • Oncology psychiatrists and social workers experienced in helping with the cognitive side effects of cancer and treatment, as well the emotional and spiritual side of the cancer experience
  • A nutritionist to help you with questions about diet and nutrition during treatment
  • Palliative care providers to improve quality of life

In keeping with your own needs and wishes, this team will develop your treatment plan, monitor your care, and communicate regularly with you and your referring physician about your progress. Your treatment might involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or some combination of the three.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging CancersOur pathologists are highly sub-specialized. They work exclusively with genitourinary cancers and are familiar with genetic “tumor markers” that can help pinpoint treatment.

Our diagnostic experts are aided by the most advanced imaging technology, including nanoparticle-enhanced MRI, an imaging technology developed here that can find cancerous lymph nodes missed by biopsies. This expertise translates into faster, more precise diagnoses, providing the foundation for the most effective treatment.

Standard and Novel Medical TreatmentsOur kidney cancer patients have access to both traditional and innovative approaches to the treatment of advanced kidney cancer. These include targeted therapies or “smart drugs,” which have revolutionized the care and prognosis of this disease. In addition to targeted drugs such as Sutent®, Nexavar, Afinitor, Avastin and Torisel, which are now widely available to patients everywhere, our patients have access to new treatments through our clinical trials program, which is one of the most advanced in the region.

Excellence in Surgical CareMinimally invasive surgeries reduce complications, shorten hospital stays, and speed patient recovery. Our patients benefits from experienced surgical teams who are well-versed in traditional and minimally invasive procedures including:

  • Radiofrequency ablation, which uses radiofrequency waves to destroy tumors. This is an outpatient surgery, ordinarily done with local anesthesia and light sedation; it offers the same survival benefits as open surgery
  • Laparoscopic nephrectomy, which involves removing all or part of the diseased kidney using instruments inserted through several small incisions in the abdomen

Pioneering Radiation TherapiesAlthough radiation is not often required to treat cancer within the kidney, it may be used after surgery. In this case, we use the most current, safest techniques, including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and intraoperative radiation. The latter is a form of radiation delivered to the surgical area once a tumor has been removed and while the patient is under sedation. Precision radiation, including proton beam therapy, may also be used if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Treating Cancer through Clinical Trials

Clinical trials offer patients at all stages of disease access to treatment approaches based on the most current understanding of cancer. Current trials include:

  • The use of Sutent® to inhibit blood vessel growth together with chemotherapy that directly kills cancer cells
  • The combination of targeted therapies against different blood vessel growth pathways to completely block blood supply to tumor cells
  • The addition of blood vessel inhibitors postoperatively to reduce the risk of recurrent of kidney cancer after kidney surgery

View our open trials for kidney cancer.

Developing Better Therapies through ResearchLaboratory and clinical studies continually improve approaches to cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. As one of the region’s foremost research centers in genitourinary cancers, we are studying ways to optimize the treatment for early stage renal cell carcinoma and developing novel therapeutic approaches to treat advanced stage disease.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys - two large, bean-shaped organs - one located to the left, and the other to the right of the backbone.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

Discover the Cancer Center patient experience

Our approach to patient care unites cancer specialists across the hospital to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient, ensuring the best possible outcomes.