January 20, 2022


A new evolving field, namely Onconephrology 

Τhe field of onconephrology encompasses the broad spectrum of kidney disorders that can arise in patients with cancer. Beyond cancers of the kidney, nonrenal cancers can have renal complications, and anticancer therapies, including chemotherapy, targeted anticancer agents and immunotherapy can have adverse renal effects, leading to the development of fluid, electrolyte and acid–base disorders, as well as acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. Moreover, renal impairment can alter the excretion and metabolism of anticancer agents, necessitating dose adjustment. A clearer understanding of cancers and anticancer therapies that affect the kidney is essential to improve patient care and to facilitate the development of new, nontoxic treatments. 

Cancer therapeutics (for both solid and hematological malignancies) have evolved over the last two decades, from traditional chemotherapies to novel treatments. A better supportive care, older patients with comorbidities who receive multiple chemotherapeutic and pharmacological regimens, multiple CT scans with contrast agents, and new therapeutic options are also increasing the number of cancer patients who can develop acute kidney injury (AKI) or chronic kidney disease (CKD). 

Targeted therapies and immunotherapies, which harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells have led to improved survival in cancer patients, yet all are associated with many organ toxicities. Renal toxicity is mainly represented by acute tubular-interstitial damage, glomerular lesions, thrombotic microangiopathy, tumor lysis, proteinuria, arterial hypertension, AKI, CKD, and secondary fluid/electrolyte disturbances. On the other hand, it is important to consider how the presence of CKD, AKI, and other renal disorders may affect treatment options for the oncologists and patient’s outcome. All these features require a specialized approach. 

A new evolving field, namely Onconephrology, has emerged during the last few years, including the broad spectrum of renal disorders that can arise in patients with cancer. Nephrologists have become an indispensable part of the multidisciplinary cancer care teams, but a clear and updated knowledge of solid and hematological malignancies, always new anticancer therapies, and their relationships with kidney function is essential to ensure the highest quality of care. 

Ioannis Griveas Consultant Nephrologist, M.D., PhD Μedical Director Dialysis Unit “Polyxenia-Renal” https://www.polyxenia-renal.gr/