What Happens During Biological Therapy for Kidney Cancer

The most common biological treatment for kidney cancer is cytokine therapy. This treatment includes the use of one or both of these lab-created proteins.

  • Intron A or Roferon A (interferon alpha)

  • Proleukin (interleukin-2)

These are both proteins that activate your immune system.

If you are taking interferon alpha, you will likely get shots under your skin about 3 times a week. Or you may have a shot into a vein one time a day. You can get these as an outpatient. And you may need them for a few months. How long you need them depends on your side effects from treatment and how effective the treatment is.

If you are taking Interleukin-2, you may get it one of these ways.

  • High-dose interleukin-2 is given through a vein in your arm. You will be hospitalized to get this treatment.

  • Low-dose interleukin-2 is given as an injection under your skin. The nurse in your doctor’s office can give the injections. Or you may be taught how to give them to yourself.

In some cases, cytokines can be used to boost immune system cells that are taken out of your blood. After stimulation, these cells are injected back into your body. Once inside your body, the injected cells look for and attack kidney cancer cells. This is known as vaccine therapy. It is still experimental and is done in clinical trials.

Medical Reviewer: [Alteri, Rick MD, Appleman, Leonard J. MD, Foster, Sara M. RN, MPH, Wood, Laura RN, MSN, OCN] Last Annual Review Date: 2009-08-09T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: © 2007 CancerSource, 280 Summer Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02210. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.