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Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) and the Role of Cabozantinib: An Overview

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a type of kidney cancer that originates in the lining of the tubules in the kidney. It typically accounts for roughly 90% of kidney cancers and affects adults in their 60s and 70s. When this condition progresses to an advanced stage, it becomes more challenging to treat and requires targeted therapies like Cabozantinib tablet.

What is Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)?

Advanced Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) refers to cancer that has spread beyond the kidney to other parts of the body, such as nearby lymph nodes, other organs, or distant sites like the bones or lungs.

Symptoms: The symptoms of advanced RCC can vary from person to person, but common signs may include:

  • Persistent back pain, often below the ribs.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).
  • A lump or mass in the abdomen.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fever
  • Anemia, indicated by pale skin and weakness.

These symptoms may not necessarily indicate the condition, as they can overlap with other medical conditions. However, if any of these signs persist, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Causes: The exact cause of Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is not fully understood, but certain factors may increase the risk of developing this type of kidney cancer. These include:

  • Smoking: Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for this cancer, as it exposes the body to carcinogenic substances that can damage kidney cells.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing the disease, possibly due to the associated inflammation and hormonal changes.
  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a known risk factor for this disease, possibly because it can lead to damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys over time.
  • Genetic Factors: Certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease and hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, predispose individuals to RCC.
  • Gender: Men are at a higher risk of developing the condition compared to women, although the reasons for this disparity are not entirely clear.
  • Age: This cancer is more common in older adults, with the risk increasing with age.

Risk Factors: In addition to the causes mentioned above, several other factors may increase the risk of developing advanced RCC. These include:

  • Exposure to Certain Chemicals: Occupational exposure to certain chemicals, such as cadmium and organic solvents, may increase the risk of this cancer.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease: Individuals with a history of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of developing this condition, possibly due to long-term damage to kidney tissues.
  • Dialysis Treatment: Long-term dialysis treatment for chronic kidney failure may increase the risk of cancer, possibly due to cumulative exposure to toxins and other harmful substances.

Diagnosis: Diagnosing advanced RCC typically involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, imaging tests, and laboratory tests. These may include:

  • Imaging Tests: Imaging studies, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, help visualize the size, location, and extent of the tumor.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy may be performed to obtain a tissue sample from the kidney tumor for further analysis under a microscope. This helps confirm the diagnosis of RCC and determine its specific subtype.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests, such as complete blood count (CBC), kidney function tests, and liver function tests, help assess the overall health status and detect any abnormalities associated with RCC, such as anemia or elevated levels of certain enzymes.
  • Genetic Testing: Genetic testing may be recommended for individuals with a family history of RCC (Renal cell carcinoma) or certain genetic conditions associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • Staging: Staging helps determine the extent of the cancer and guides treatment decisions. It involves assessing the size of the tumor, its spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs, and the presence of metastasis (spread) to distant sites in the body.

Role of Cabozantinib in RCC Treatment:

Cabozantinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that targets multiple receptors involved in tumor growth, angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), and metastasis (spread of cancer). It is approved by the US FDA for treating advanced RCC and has demonstrated efficacy in enhancing progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in clinical trials.

For treating advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), cabozantinib comes as tablets of 20 mg, 40 mg, and 60 mg under the brand name Cabometyx, and the prescribed dose is 60 mg orally once daily.

Mechanism of Action: Cabozantinib 20 mg/40 mg/60 mg tablets treatment inhibits the activity of tyrosine kinases, including MET, VEGFR, and AXL, which are implicated in RCC progression and angiogenesis. By blocking these pathways, Cabozantinib tablet helps inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.

Efficacy in RCC: Clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Cabozantinib in treating advanced RCC. In the CABOSUN trial, Cabozantinib showed superior progression-free survival compared to sunitinib, another commonly used TKI, in treatment-naive patients with intermediate or poor-risk RCC.

Side Effects: Common side effects of Cabozantinib include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, change in hair color, hand-foot syndrome, stomatitis, hypertension, thrombocytopenia, anemia, rash, neutropenia, and fever. Other uncommon, but potentially serious side effects include osteonecrosis of the jaw, thrombotic events including myocardial infarction, stroke and arterial thromboses, posterior leukoencephalopathy, and fetal toxicity. Patients should be monitored regularly for these side effects, and dose adjustments may be necessary to manage them effectively.


In conclusion, advanced Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) poses significant challenges in treatment, but targeted therapies like Cabozantinib offer hope for improved outcomes. Cabozantinib’s ability to target multiple pathways involved in RCC progression makes it a valuable option for patients with advanced disease. However, it’s essential to consider individual patient factors and potential side effects when determining the optimal treatment approach. Collaborative decision-making between patients and healthcare providers is key to achieving the best possible outcomes in advanced Renal cell carcinoma management.


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