Kidney Cancer Treatment Program

Our team is experienced in the treatment of rare, inherited and advanced forms of kidney cancer.
Request an Appointment Request a Remote Second Opinion

Talk to an access nurse today 877-726-5130


The Claire & John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary Cancers is one of the largest and most experienced centers in New England. Our specialists diagnose and treat kidney cancers including:
  • Clear cell renal cell carcinoma
  • Papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma
  • Rare forms of renal cell carcinoma
  • 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 Approaches

We offer patients the most advanced treatment options available for all stages of kidney cancer. Recent advances in available treatment include:

  • A class of targeted drugs that slow tumor growth by blocking angiogenesis, or blood supply, to tumor cells
  • Another class of targeted drugs that block a growth pathway within cancer cells
  • "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
  • Clinical trials examining new treatment approaches such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy

Standard and Novel Medical Treatments

Our kidney cancer patients have access to both traditional and innovative approaches to the treatment of advanced kidney cancer. These include targeted therapies, which have revolutionized the care and prognosis of this disease. 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 Care

Minimally invasive surgeries reduce complications, shorten hospital stays, and speed patient recovery. Our patients benefits from experienced surgical teams who are experienced in traditional and minimally invasive procedures including radiofrequency ablation and laparoscopic nephrectomy.

Pioneering Radiation Therapies

Although 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.

Meet the Team

Our Genitourinary Team

New patients are generally seen within a week of referral. 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 testicular 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 

Matthew R. Smith, MD, PhD

Matthew R. Smith, MD, PhD
Director, Genitourinary Malignancies Program




See the complete team list treating Kidney Cancer

Patient Education

Information about Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are two large, bean-shaped organs located near the backbone. Cancer that starts in the tissues of a kidney is called kidney cancer.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that more than 61,500 new cases of kidney cancer would be diagnosed in the United States in 2015, and that the disease would cause about 14,000 deaths.

Please note: The information on this page refers to renal cell carcinoma, which represents about nine out of 10 kidney cancers.

Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

A diagnosis of kidney cancer may be made through tests and procedures including:

  • Blood and urine laboratory tests
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy

Kidney Cancer Treatment

The most common kidney cancer treatment is a type of kidney surgery called a nephrectomy.

  • Partial nephrectomy is removal of part of the kidney that contains the tumor (abnormal growth)
  • Simple nephrectomy is removal of the kidney
  • Radical nephrectomy is removal of the kidney along with the adrenal gland, nearby tissue and, sometimes, nearby lymph nodes

Nonsurgical kidney cancer treatments include:

  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to kill or shrink tumors while saving healthy tissue
  • Chemotherapy kills cancer cells through the use of intravenous (IV) or oral drugs
  • Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific parts of cancer cells
  • Biological therapy uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer
  • Arterial embolization shrinks the tumor by blocking access to blood and other vital substances
  • Clinical trials may provide access to new and promising therapies for kidney cancer

Learn more about Kidney Cancer

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies of new drugs, new combinations of drugs or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new/different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment.

Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease in which the genetic makeup of each individual cancer drives therapy. The Center for Genitourinary Cancers also has access to clinical trials involving these targeted therapy approaches.

Find listings of our current Clinical Trials for Kidney Cancer.

The Cancer Center offers the Lazarex-MGH Cancer Care Equity Program, which strives to promote awareness about and access to cancer clinical trials through community outreach and education, financial assistance, and patient navigation. Find out more about this program.


New Patients

(those who have not previously seen a doctor within the Mass General/Partners Healthcare Network)

Step 1. Obtain a medical record number (MRN).
Call the Mass General Registration & Referral Center to register as a patient and obtain an MRN: 866-211-6588.

Step 2. Call the Cancer Center new patient appointment line: 617-726-5130.
The schedulers can assist you in making the first available appointment with the appropriate physician. To help your call go smoothly, please have ready your:

  • Full name and date of birth
  • Medical record number
  • Medical diagnosis

Existing Patients

Call the Genitourinary Center scheduling line: 617-724-5197. They will connect you with your treatment team.

Request an Appointment Request a Remote Second Opinion

Talk to an access nurse today 877-726-5130

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