Optimizing your health

It is important to discuss your dietary and activity needs with your healthcare team and make these a part of your treatment plan. In addition to following your treatment as prescribed by your doctor, the following strategies can help you optimize your health while going through treatment:

  • Follow a healthy diet
    For strength and energy, to support kidney function and for overall health
  • Manage stress
    By staying active and getting exercise, as appropriate
  • Stay informed
    Make sure you understand everything about your treatment and any possible side effects
  • Get support
    Ask your healthcare professional about available support services. A list of support organizations by province is available through Kidney Cancer Canada



If you have had surgery to remove either a whole kidney or a part, it is important to treat your remaining kidney well. One kidney is actually capable of performing the normal functions of both kidneys. However, while it is possible to live a normal and active life, it is important to make healthy lifestyle choices. Poor dietary and lifestyle habits can overwork a single kidney, causing diminished kidney function, which may lead to kidney failure. Therefore, if you treat your remaining kidney well, your entire body will benefit.



Besides the fact that a healthy diet is important for your overall health, your diet is especially important with respect to supporting kidney function. You may wish to ask your physician if you can speak with a registered dietician (RD) about specific dietary recommendations for living well with one kidney or reduced kidney function.


Some dietary considerations may include the following:

Digestion of protein produces the waste product urea, which is then filtered from the blood by the kidneys. A diet that is high in protein requires the kidney(s) to work harder to excrete the resulting higher amounts of urea. A diet containing low to moderate amounts of protein may be recommended.

Sodium is filtered from the blood by the kidneys. A diet that is high in salt makes higher demands on the kidney(s). Reducing the amount of salt in your diet may be recommended.

Phosphorus levels in the blood may be elevated when kidney function is compromised, and this can cause problems like joint pain. A Registered Dietitian may recommend limiting high-phosphorus foods such as seeds, nuts and beans, as well as foods containing moderate amounts of phosphorus such as milk, cheese, meat, fish, and poultry.

Alcohol can cause kidney damage if consumed in large amounts, therefore moderate alcohol consumption may be recommended.

Fluid balance in the body is regulated by the kidneys, and excess water is filtered out. It is important to stay well-hydrated, but excess fluids can strain your kidney function.


Side effects are unfortunately a part of treatment with any medication, including cancer therapies. The kind of side effects depends mainly on the type of the therapy. Side effects may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next. Some therapies are better tolerated than others by different individuals. Before treatment starts, your healthcare team will explain possible side effects associated with your specific treatment and suggest ways to help you manage them. In some cases, side effects from a particular therapy may prove intolerable, and a switch will be recommended.

View managing side effects



Follow-up care is an important part of your treatment plan. Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, it sometimes may return or progress because cancer cells can remain in the body after treatment. Your healthcare team will monitor your recovery and check for signs of progression or recurrence of cancer. Follow-up checkups help to ensure that any changes in health are noted, and your healthcare team should advise you on signs or symptoms to be aware of and report.

Guidelines for follow-up care depend upon your type of tumour and stage of disease. The Canadian Urological Association (CUA) publishes guidelines for follow-up care.

View kidney cancer treatment guidelines
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