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Health Information Center

Other Treatments for Kidney Cancer

  • Debra Wood, RN
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Other Treatments for Kidney Cancer

Biologic Therapy

Biologic therapy (also called immunotherapy) uses drugs to improve the way your body fights cancer. The therapy attempts to repair, stimulate, or enhance the immune system so that it can identify and fight the cancer cells more effectively. It may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Cytokines are reproduced proteins that activate the body's immune system. Examples of cytokines used to treat kidney cancer include interferon alfa and interleukin 2 ( IL-2, aldesleukin, or proleukin).

Interleukin 2 (IL-2) is given by injection under the skin or by IV for metastatic kidney cancer. Treatment may be given in cycles separated by a rest period. In some cases, IL-2 results in shrinking the tumor. In others, the tumor may disappear completely, though there is a chance of recurrence. IL-2 treatment is not appropriate for all people with metastatic kidney cancer because of the serious side effects.

Common Side Effects



  • Kidney cancer treatment. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/treating.html.
  • Kidney cancer: treatment. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kc-treatment.
  • Renal cell carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114704/Renal-cell-carcinoma.
  • Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/patient/kidney-treatment-pdq#section/_93.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.