Treatment of renal cell carcinoma: Current status and future directions

CA Cancer J Clin. 2017 Nov;67(6):507-524. doi: 10.3322/caac.21411. Epub 2017 Sep 29.


Answer questions and earn CME/CNE Over the past 12 years, medical treatment for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has transitioned from a nonspecific immune approach (in the cytokine era), to targeted therapy against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and now to novel immunotherapy agents. Multiple agents-including molecules against vascular endothelial growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, and related receptors; inhibitors of other targets, such as the mammalian target of rapamycin and the MET and AXL tyrosine-protein kinase receptors; and an immune-checkpoint inhibitor-have been approved based on significant activity in patients with advanced RCC. Despite these advances, important questions remain regarding biomarkers of efficacy, patient selection, and the optimal combination and sequencing of agents. The purpose of this review is to summarize present management and future directions in the treatment of metastatic RCC. CA Cancer J Clin 2017;67:507-524. © 2017 American Cancer Society.

Keywords: clinical trials; immunotherapy; programmed death 1 (PD-1); renal cell carcinoma; targeted agents; vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Disease Management
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / trends
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / immunology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Patient Selection


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor