Metastatic Kidney Cancer
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The content contained in this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice related to any topic discussed. Patients are urged to consult with their treating physicians or other professionals. Never disregard professional, medical, or legal advice or delay seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.

What is kidney cancer?

The term kidney cancer is often used to describe a common kind of cancer that begins in the cells surrounding tiny blood-filtering tubes within the kidneys (called renal tubes). Doctors also call it renal cell carcinoma. Other kinds of cancers can also begin in the kidneys, but they are treated differently than renal cell carcinoma.

What causes kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer can develop when abnormal changes (called mutations) occur inside a person’s genes. As a result, normal cells within the kidney become cancer cells. While the exact cause may not be known, people who smoke tobacco, are overweight, or have high blood pressure are at risk for kidney cancer.

What is metastatic kidney cancer?

Metastatic kidney cancer occurs when cancer spreads from the kidney to other parts of the body. It most commonly spreads to the lungs, lymph nodes, bones, and liver.

Are there different stages of kidney cancer?

Yes, there are 4 stages (stage 1 to stage 4) of kidney cancer. Stage 1 and stage 2 kidney cancer tumors are confined to the kidney. With stage 3, cancer has spread to tissue, veins, and/or lymph nodes that are near the kidney. With stage 4, cancer has spread beyond the kidney to a layer of connective tissue that surrounds the kidneys (called the Gerota’s fascia) and/or to a distant site.

Can metastatic kidney cancer be treated?

Yes. There are several different treatments for metastatic kidney cancer. Your healthcare professional will tell you if you may be a candidate for:

  • Immunotherapy, such as Proleukin
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy

You can also ask your healthcare professional if there is a possibility of enrolling in a clinical study for a new treatment.

Can metastatic kidney cancer be cured?

Some treatments may help slow or stop the progression of cancer for a while. Proleukin is one of those therapies. After Proleukin treatment, some people’s tumors completely disappeared and did not return (called a durable complete response).*

What is Proleukin?

Proleukin (aldesleukin) is a synthetic form of IL-2, an important protein that your body produces. IL-2 activates certain white blood cells (called lymphocytes) to help your immune system fight against diseases and infections. Learn more.

How does Proleukin work?

Proleukin specifically activates cancer-attacking cells in your body—causing them to reproduce in greater numbers—so they can target cancer cells and block the spread of metastatic kidney cancer. Learn more.

How might Proleukin help?

Some people with metastatic kidney cancer have had their cancer tumors completely disappear for over 20 years after treatment with Proleukin.*

How is Proleukin administered?

Proleukin is administered by intravenous infusion at hospitals that specialize in Proleukin treatment. Usually, you’ll receive two 5-day treatment cycles (constituting 1 course of therapy) with Proleukin, with 9 days of rest in between. During each 5-day treatment cycle, Proleukin is typically provided once every 8 hours. If Proleukin is working against your cancer after just 1 course, your oncologist may—or may not—suggest 1 or 2 more courses.

Are side effects severe with Proleukin?

Not always. Everyone is different, and side effects during treatment can be mild, moderate, or severe. Fortunately, side effects can be managed by a team of experts at the hospitals that specialize in Proleukin treatment. And most side effects should resolve a few days after stopping treatment with Proleukin. Please see full Prescribing Information for a complete list of side effects.

How can I learn more about metastatic kidney cancer?

If you have any medical questions, talk to your healthcare professional. You can also access many helpful resources here.


Objective response was seen in 15% of patients with metastatic kidney cancer. In 7% of patients (17/255), tumors completely disappeared (called durable complete response). In 8% (20/255) of patients, tumors shrank (called partial response).

If you have additional questions about Proleukin, call the Proleukin Patient Support Hotline at 877-PROLEUKIN (877-776-5385) or ask your healthcare professional.

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma (mM) and metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

Summary of Important Safety Information for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) and metastatic melanoma (mM).

Summary of Important Safety Information for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.


Therapy with Proleukin® (aldesleukin) should be restricted to patients with normal cardiac and pulmonary functions as defined by thallium stress testing and formal pulmonary function testing. Extreme caution should be used in patients with a normal thallium stress test and a normal pulmonary function test who have a history of cardiac or pulmonary disease.

Proleukin should be administered in a hospital setting under the supervision of a qualified physician experienced in the use of anticancer agents. An intensive care facility and specialists skilled in cardiopulmonary or intensive care medicine must be available.

Proleukin administration has been associated with capillary leak syndrome (CLS) which is characterized by a loss of vascular tone and extravasation of plasma proteins and fluid into the extravascular space. CLS results in hypotension and reduced organ perfusion which may be severe and can result in death. CLS may be associated with cardiac arrhythmias (supraventricular and ventricular), angina, myocardial infarction, respiratory insufficiency requiring intubation, gastrointestinal bleeding or infarction, renal insufficiency, edema, and mental status changes.

Proleukin treatment is associated with impaired neutrophil function (reduced chemotaxis) and with an increased risk of disseminated infection, including sepsis and bacterial endocarditis. Consequently, preexisting bacterial infections should be adequately treated prior to initiation of Proleukin therapy. Patients with indwelling central lines are particularly at risk for infection with gram positive microorganisms. Antibiotic prophylaxis with oxacillin, nafcillin, ciprofloxacin, or vancomycin has been associated with a reduced incidence of staphylococcal infections.

Proleukin administration should be withheld in patients developing moderate to severe lethargy or somnolence; continued administration may result in coma.



Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (metastatic RCC).

Proleukin is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma.

Careful patient selection is mandatory prior to the administration of Proleukin.

Evaluation of clinical studies to date reveals that patients with more favorable ECOG performance status (ECOG PS 0) at treatment initiation respond better to Proleukin, with a higher response rate and lower toxicity. Therefore, selection of patients for treatment should include assessment of performance status.

Experience in patients with ECOG PS > 1 is extremely limited.



Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is contraindicated in patients with a known history of hypersensitivity to interleukin-2 or any component of the Proleukin formulation.

Proleukin is contraindicated in patients with an abnormal thallium stress test or abnormal pulmonary function tests and those with organ allografts. Retreatment with Proleukin is contraindicated in patients who have experienced the following drug-related toxicities while receiving an earlier course of therapy: sustained ventricular tachycardia (≥ 5 beats), cardiac arrhythmias not controlled or unresponsive to management, chest pain with ECG changes, consistent with angina or myocardial infarction, cardiac tamponade, intubation for > 72 hours, renal failure requiring dialysis > 72 hours, coma or toxic psychosis lasting > 48 hours, repetitive or difficult to control seizures, bowel ischemia/perforation, GI bleeding requiring surgery.



Because of the severe adverse events which generally accompany Proleukin therapy at the recommended dosages, a thorough clinical evaluation should be performed to identify patients with significant heart, lung, kidney, liver or central nervous system impairment in whom Proleukin is not indicated for use. Patients with normal heart, lung, liver and central nervous system function may experience serious, life-threatening or fatal adverse events.

Should adverse events, requiring dose modification occur, dosage should be withheld rather than reduced.

Proleukin has been associated with exacerbation of preexisting autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. In some cases, the onset of new autoimmune diseases, such as vitiligo, may occur. Symptomatic hyperglycemia and/or diabetes mellitus have been reported during Proleukin therapy.

All patients should have thorough evaluation and treatment of CNS metastases and have a negative scan prior to receiving Proleukin therapy. New neurologic signs, symptoms, and anatomic lesions following Proleukin therapy have been reported in patients without evidence of CNS metastases. Neurologic signs and symptoms associated with Proleukin therapy usually improve after discontinuation of Proleukin therapy; however, there are reports of permanent neurologic defects. In patients with known seizure disorders, extreme caution should be exercised as Proleukin may cause seizures.



Patients should have normal cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function at the start of therapy. Capillary leak syndrome (CLS) begins immediately after Proleukin® (aldesleukin) treatment starts and is marked by increased capillary permeability to protein and fluids and reduced vascular tone.

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) treatment should be withheld for failure to maintain organ perfusion as demonstrated by altered mental status, reduced urine output, a fall in the systolic blood pressure below 90 mm Hg or onset of cardiac arrhythmias.

Recovery from CLS begins soon after cessation of Proleukin therapy. Usually, within a few hours, the blood pressure rises, organ perfusion is restored and reabsorption of extravasated fluid and protein begins.

Kidney and liver function are impaired during Proleukin treatment. Use of concomitant nephrotoxic or hepatotoxic medications may further increase toxicity to the kidney or liver.

Mental status changes including irritability, confusion, or depression which occur while receiving Proleukin may be due to bacteremia or early bacterial sepsis, hypoperfusion, occult CNS malignancy, or direct Proleukin-induced CNS toxicity. Patients should be evaluated for these and other causes of mental status changes. Alterations in mental status due solely to Proleukin therapy may progress for several days before recovery begins. Rarely, patients have sustained permanent neurologic deficits.

Proleukin enhancement of cellular immune function may increase the risk of allograft rejection in transplant patients.

Serious manifestations of eosinophilia involving eosinophilic infiltration of cardiac and pulmonary tissues can occur following Proleukin.



The rate of drug-related deaths in the 255 metastatic RCC patients who received single-agent Proleukin® (aldesleukin) was 4% (11/255); the rate of drug-related deaths in the 270 metastatic melanoma patients who received single-agent Proleukin was 2% (6/270).

Adverse events are frequent, often serious, and sometimes fatal. The following adverse events (Grades 1-4) were seen in ≥ 30% of 525 patients (255 with metastatic kidney cancer and 270 with metastatic melanoma) treated with Proleukin: low blood pressure (71%), diarrhea (67%), low urine output (63%), chills (52%), vomiting (50%), shortness of breath (43%), rash (42%), increased bilirubin in blood (40%), decreased clotting of blood (37%), nausea (35%), confusion (34%), and decreased kidney function (33%).

Please see the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

The content contained in this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice related to any topic discussed. Patients are urged to consult with their treating physicians or other professionals. Never disregard professional, medical, or legal advice or delay seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.