Kidney Cancer

Cancer that originates in the kidney

By Vishal Ingole, Medical Research EditorLast modified: October 04, 2011

Kidney Cancer

It is estimated that approximately 209,000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed annually.

Kidney Cancer Defined

Cancer that originates in the kidneys is known as kidney cancer. There are two principal types of kidney cancers, the Renal Cell Carcinoma and Urothelial Cell Carcinoma (UCC) of the renal pelvis. Each of these types of cancer originates in a different location in the kidney. Renal cell originates in the lining of proximal convoluted tubule. This tubule refers to a complex system of tiny tubes in the kidney that are responsible for filtering blood and removing waste products. UCC, on other hand, originates in the urinary system. This refers to the kidney, urinary bladder, and other related organs. Apart from these, there are other lesser widespread forms of kidney cancer such as Angiomyolipoma, Mesoblastic nephroma, and Wilms’ tumor. This Wilms’ tumor usually occurs in children under the age of 5 years.

Causes Of Kidney Cancer

It is generally observed that people over the age of 40 are at a higher risk of kidney cancer. However, there is no certain determining factor. It is difficult for doctors to predict or explain why some people would suffer from kidney cancer while others would not. However, some of the major reasons that cause this kind of cancer are smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. Apart from this, people who undergo dialysis for a long period are susceptible to this cancer. A rare genetic disorder known as the Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome also predisposes a person to kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is also an occupational hazard for people who work in places where they are exposed to harmful chemicals or substances such as asbestos.

Symptoms Of Kidney Cancer

Some of the common symptoms of kidney cancer are blood in the urine (easily identified by a rusty shade in the urine), fever, constant pain on the side, existence of mass or a lump on the side, and fever. These symptoms do not always point to the existence of kidney cancer. However, it is best to have them checked.

Diagnosis Of Kidney Cancer

Doctors use any or multiple of these methods to determine the existence of kidney tumors: urine tests, blood tests, a complete physical exam where tests are run for fever and blood pressure, Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP) where dye travels through the body and points out areas where tumors may be growing, and CAT scans. Another way to detect kidney tumors is through biopsies where tissue is studied to detect cancer cells.

Kidney Cancer Treatments

Kidney cancer treatments begin with a phase called staging. In this phase, the doctor studies the tumor to determine the extent of the cancer. This information helps in identifying the best method of treatment. For example, treatment in Stage 1 (which is an early stage) will differ from Stage 3 (where the cancer has spread to adrenal glands). Depending on the stage of kidney cancer, treatment may differ. However, the main forms of treatment are surgery, radiation therapy, biological therapy, chemotherapy, and arterial embolization. Patients may need to have a combination of treatments.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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