Biologic and targeted therapies are the newest treatments to be used for kidney cancer. They may be given to reduce the size of the cancer and control locally advanced disease or if the kidney cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It can also be used if the cancer has come back.


These drugs are designed to act against specific proteins in the tumor cells, thereby helping block the cell-to-cell signals that promote cell division.

- Sunitinib

This may be used as a first-line drug therapy for people with stage 4 kidney cancer. The drug is an inhibitor of proteins that promote the proliferation of the tumor.

It is usually taken daily in tablet form over four weeks followed by a two-week rest. This makes up one cycle of your treatment. Doctors adjust patients' dose levels throughout the treatment.

Common side effects of sunitinib include:

  • Tiredness
  • Changes to the skin, such as rash
  • Changes to the hair's thickness
  • Palmar-plantar syndrome, where the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet undergo reddening, cause pain, and sometimes swell.
  • Soreness of the mouth
  • Loose bowels
  • Increased blood pressure

Sunitinib can also interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland; blood tests are performed during the treatment to monitor this.

- Pazopanib and sorafenib

These are other inhibitors of cancer growth that can be used as first-line treatment for advanced kidney cancer. These are taken in tablet form.

- Everolimus

This is given in tablet form and normally as second-line treatment after targeted therapy for advanced kidney cancer.

- Temsirolimus

Temsirolimus is given as an intravenous injection and can also be used as second-line treatment.

- Bevacizumab

This is known as monoclonal antibody treatment. It works by blocking the development of tumor blood vessels.

Bevacizumab is used together with interferon to treat advanced kidney cancer.


Drugs used in biologic therapy work in several ways, one of which is to foster the immune system's ability to fight against cancer cells.

- Interferon

Interferon can be used to treat advanced kidney cancer and is sometimes given together with bevacizumab.

Interferon is produced naturally by the body in small quantities. It affects the immune system in different ways to fight against the cancer.

The type used to treat kidney cancer is called interferon alpha-2A. It is usually given 3 times a week as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously).

Interferon causes flu-like symptoms during the first two week such as chills, fever, headache, and pain in the back, joints, and muscles. Another common side effect is fatigue.

- Interleukin 2

This is an artificial version of a protein produced naturally in the body.

Because the drug is given intravenously, it is necessary to stay in the hospital to receive it. It can cause severe side effects in the heart and lungs, which is why patients must be monitored closely.

Some of the common side effects include flu-like symptoms, dizziness, or loss of appetite.