Treatment Landscape of Renal Cell Carcinoma

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2023 Dec;24(12):1889-1916. doi: 10.1007/s11864-023-01161-5. Epub 2023 Dec 28.


The treatment landscape of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has evolved significantly over the past three decades. Active surveillance and tumor ablation are alternatives to extirpative therapy in appropriately selected patients. Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is an emerging noninvasive alternative to treat primary RCC tumors. The advent of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has greatly improved the overall survival of advanced RCC, and now the ICI-based doublet (dual ICI-ICI doublet; or ICI in combination with a vascular endothelial growth factor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, ICI-TKI doublet) has become the standard frontline therapy. Based on unprecedented outcomes in the metastatic with ICIs, they are also being explored in the neoadjuvant and adjuvant setting for patients with high-risk disease. Adjuvant pembrolizumab has proven efficacy to reduce the risk of RCC recurrence after nephrectomy. Historically considered a radioresistant tumor, SBRT occupies an expanding role to treat RCC with oligometastasis or oligoprogression in combination with systemic therapy. Furthermore, SBRT is being investigated in combination with ICI-doublet in the advanced disease setting. Lastly, given the treatment paradigm is shifting to adopt ICIs at earlier disease course, the prospective studies guiding treatment sequencing in the post-ICI setting is maturing. The effort is ongoing in search of predictive biomarkers to guide optimal treatment option in RCC.

Keywords: Immune checkpoint inhibitor; Immunotherapy; Kidney cancer; Renal cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors