Kidney cancer is cancer that originates in the kidneys. Your kidneys are two beanshaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They’re located behind your abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of your spine.
In adults, the most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma. Other less common types of kidney cancer can occur. Young children are more likely to develop a kind of kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumor.
The incidence of kidney cancer seems to be increasing. One reason for this may be the fact that imaging techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) scan are being used more often. These tests may lead to the accidental discovery of more kidney.
Using the TNM system, the “T” plus a letter or number (0 to 4) is used to describe the size and location of the tumor. Some stages are also divided into smaller groups that help describe the tumor in even more detail. This helps the doctor develop the best treatment plan for each patient. If there is more than one tumor, the lowercase letter “m” (multiple) is added to the “T” stage category. Specific tumor stage information for kidney cancer is listed below.
TX:The primary tumor cannot be evaluated
T1:The tumor is found only in the kidney and is 7 centimeters (cm) or smaller at its largest area. There has been much discussion among doctors about whether this classification should only include a tumor 5 cm or smaller.
T2:The tumor is found only in the kidney and is larger than 7 cm at its largest area.
T3:The tumor has grown into major veins within the kidney or perinephric tissue, which is the connective, fatty tissue around the kidneys. However, it has not grown into the adrenal gland on the same side of the body as the tumor. The adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney and produce hormones and adrenaline to help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other body functions. In addition, the tumor has not spread beyond Gerota’s fascia, an envelope of tissue that surrounds the kidney.
T4:The tumor has spread to areas beyond Gerota’s fascia and extends into the adrenal gland on the same side of the body as the tumor. The “N” in the TNM staging system stands for lymph nodes, the tiny, beanshaped organs that help fight infection. Lymph nodes near the kidneys are called regional lymph nodes. Lymph nodes in other parts of the body are called distant lymph nodes.
NX:The regional lymph nodes cannot be evaluated.
N0:The cancer has not spread to the regional lymph nodes
N1:The cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes.
The “M” in the TNM system indicates whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, called distant metastasis. Common areas where kidney cancer may spread include the bones, liver, lungs, brain, and distant lymph nodes.
M0:The disease has not metastasized.
M1:The cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the kidney area. Doctors assign the stage of the cancer by combining the T, N, and M classifications.
Stage I:The tumor is 7 cm or smaller and is only located in the kidney. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs (T1, N0, M0).
Stage II:The tumor is larger than 7 cm and is only located in the kidney. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs (T2, N0, M0).
Stage III:Either of these conditions:
Stage IV:Either of these conditions:
You should see a GP if you have any symptoms of kidney cancer, such as blood in your urine or a constant pain below your ribs. Your GP will examine you and, if they think your symptoms need further assessment, refer you to a specialist urologist (a doctor who specialises in conditions that affect the urinary tract). If you notice blood in your urine, your GP will usually carry out a blood test and take a urine sample. The results will help rule out other possible causes, such as infection or kidney stones. In 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidelines to help GPs recognise the signs and symptoms of renal (kidney) cancer and refer people for the right tests faster.
If you need to be referred urgently, you’ll usually be seen within two weeks
In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patient’s overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. For kidney cancer, the health care team is usually led by a urologist, a doctor who specializes in the genitourinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, genitals, prostate, and testicles, or a urologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the urinary tract. Cancer care teams also include a variety of other health care professionals, including physician assistants, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, and others.
Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. Your care plan may also include treatment for symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer care. Take time to learn about all of your treatment options and be sure to ask questions about things that are unclear. Also, talk about the goals of each treatment with your doctor and what you can expect while receiving treatment. Learn more about making treatment decisions.
Kidney cancer is most often treated with surgery, targeted therapy, and/or immunotherapy. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are occasionally used. Patients with kidney cancer that has spread (metastatic cancer, see below) often receive multiple lines of therapy, which are treatments given one after another. Descriptions of these treatment options are listed below.
The main treatments for stomach cancer are:
Often the best approach uses 2 or more of these treatment methods.
The kidneys are 2 beanshaped organs. Each is about the size of a fist. You have 1 on either side of your spine in the middletolower back. They have 2 main roles:
Most people are born with 2 kidneys, but you can survive with only 1. You can also survive with no kidneys. People with no kidneys or kidneys that don’t work survive with the help of dialysis. Dialysis uses a special machine to filter the blood.
This is cancer that starts in the kidney. The most common type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The term renalis from the Latin word for kidney. About 90% of all kidney cancers are RCC. The other 10% are transitional cell carcinomas, Wilms tumors (in children), and other rare tumors.
Yes, there are many different types of RCC. A pathologist can name them under a microscope based on how they look. Here are some of the types:
More than 60,000 people in the United States are told they have kidney cancer each year. Men get kidney cancer more often than women. People who smoke are more likely to get kidney cancer than nonsmokers. Here are some other risk factors:
However, many people with kidney cancer have no known risk factors.
In the early stages, kidney cancer often causes no symptoms. As the cancer grows, symptoms may develop. The most common symptoms in people with kidney cancer include:
People with kidney cancer may have any combination of these symptoms.
There are various ways to find out if a person has kidney cancer. They include:
Someone with kidney cancer may have only 1 of the following treatments. Or they may have more than 1:
Health care providers are always finding new ways to treat kidney cancer. New treatments are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, it’s a good idea to ask your health care provider if there are any clinical trials that may be helpful to you.
Many people with cancer get a second opinion from another health care provider before deciding on treatment. Here are some of the many reasons to get a second opinion:
Here are ways to find someone to give a second opinion:
Ask the health care provider for the name of a specialist. Call the Cancer Information Service. The number is 8004CANCER (8004226237). Callers can learn about centers and programs supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Call the Kidney Cancer Association. The number is 8008509132. Get the names of health care providers from a hospital, medical school or society, or cancer advocacy group. Ask people who have had kidney cancer for health care providers’ names.
After a kidney is removed, the remaining kidney takes over the work of both. Most people with only 1 kidney have no longterm health problems. However, you should avoid anything that could harm the remaining kidney. It is very important to talk with your health care provider if you start taking new medicines or if you have a bladder infection or other problems that could affect your kidney. If the remaining kidney is damaged, you may need dialysis. With dialysis, a special machine does the kidneys’ job of filtering the blood.
Researchers are looking for ways to treat and cure kidney cancer in these ways
Clinical trials are studies of new kinds of cancer treatments. Health care providers do clinical trials to learn how well new treatments work and what their side effects are. New treatments may then be compared to the current treatment to see if they work better or have fewer side effects. People who take part in a clinical trial may benefit from access to new treatments before the FDA approves them. The trials also help increase our understanding of cancer and help people who have cancer in the future.