Effects of Kidney Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatment is geared toward positive outcomes, such as removing the cancer, reducing tumor size and preventing recurrence. However, many of the treatments used to accomplish that have their own challenges for our bodies. Prior knowledge of what to expect helps in treatment decision-making and getting the support you need to deal with these effects.

Effects of Surgery

Many cases of kidney cancer do not receive chemotherapy or radiation. The effects of surgery are generally related to pain and recovery time.

Chemotherapy-related effects

  • Fatigue: The most common effect of cancer treatment, this fatigue is different than the kind healthy people experience. It can result from any type of cancer treatment.
  • Nausea and vomiting: These can be serious consequences of cancer treatment, but Siteman has considerable experience managing these so cancer therapy can continue and you can live your normal life.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the nerves that control the sensation in our arms and legs.
  • Sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence: Patients with kidney cancer may experience these problems due to nerve damage. Our nerve-sparing approach to surgery allows small tumors to be removed without these effects in most cases.
  • Sleep disorders: More common in people with cancer, sleep may be disturbed by the cancer, pain, or certain drugs or treatments.

Your physician’s office should have information sheets on the most likely side effects of your specific therapy.

Side effects related to biologic/immunotherapy

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors, while effective, can cause side effects such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated liver function tests
  • Decreased thyroid function
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Skin rash
  • Inflammation of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet


Cardio-oncology is a new medical discipline focused on optimally treating any associated heart conditions in patients who have been treated for cancer, or are currently being treated for cancer. Specialized cardiologists can assess patients for the potential risk of developing certain heart conditions, especially if they are receiving particular types of cancer drugs, or following radiation treatment to the chest.