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What Is Kidney Cancer Called

Symptoms Of Kidney Cancer

The Kidney and Kidney Cancers | UCLA Urology

In many cases, there are no obvious symptoms at first and kidney cancer may only be found during tests for another condition or reason.

If there are symptoms, they can include:

  • blood in your pee you may notice your pee is darker than usual or reddish in colour
  • a persistent pain in your lower back or side, just below your ribs
  • a lump or swelling in your side

What Are The Different Types Of Kidney Cancer

The main type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma . About 9 out of 10 kidney cancer tumors are this type. If you have this type of kidney cancer, you may have more than one tumor in one or both kidneys. These may be large by the time they are diagnosed. But most cases of kidney cancer are found before the cancer has spread to other organs.

There are different types of RCC. A healthcare provider called a pathologist identifies these types by looking at the cancer cells under a microscope. The types of RCC include:

  • Clear cell. This is the most common type of RCC. The cancer cells look pale or clear.

  • Papillary. This is the second most common type of RCC. This type of tumor has tiny fingerlike growths.

  • Chromophobe. This is a rare form of RCC. The cells are larger than other types of RCC.

  • Collecting duct. This is also a rare form of RCC. The cancer cells look like irregular tubes.

  • Unclassified. This includes tumors that have cells from more than 1 type of cancer. It also includes tumors with cells that dont fit into the other categories.

Treatment For Kidney Cancer

Treatment for kidney cancer depends on how quickly the cancer is growing.

Treatment is different for early kidney cancer and advanced kidney cancer.

You might feel confused or unsure about your treatment options and decisions. Its okay to ask your treatment team to explain the information to you more than once. Its often okay to take some time to think about your decisions.

If you are a current smoker, your health care team will advise you to stop smoking before you start treatment. To work out a plan for quitting, talk to your doctor or call Quitline

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The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:

PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Renal Cell Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated < MM/DD/YYYY> . Available at: . Accessed < MM/DD/YYYY> .

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How Does Cryoablation For Kidney Cancer Work

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Cryoablation is used to treat small tumors, up to four centimeters .

Cold gas is used to destroy the tumor by freezing it and then rapidly thawing it. This starves the cancer cells of blood, oxygen, and water. The gas is delivered through a thin needle that is inserted into the tumor. This is usually a laparoscopic procedure, which means the doctor makes a few small cuts and uses a tiny camera on an instrument called a laparoscope.

This can also be done through your skin with a radiologist inserting a needle that is guided by a CT scan to freeze the tumor. This is even less invasive than the laparoscopic approach.

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Looking For More Of An Introduction

If you would like more of an introduction, explore these related items. Please note that these links will take you to other sections on Cancer.Net:

  • ASCO Answers Fact Sheet:Read a 1-page fact sheet that offers an introduction to kidney cancer. This free fact sheet is available as a PDF, so it is easy to print.

Risk Factors For Kidney Cancer

There are some things that can make you more likely to develop kidney cancer. These are called risk factors and they include:

  • smoking chemicals in cigarettes can cause kidney cancer. Around one in 3 cases of kidney cancer may be due to smoking
  • obesity excess body fat may cause changes in certain hormones that can lead to kidney cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney failure people with end-stage kidney disease
  • family history people who have family members with kidney cancer, especially a sister or brother
  • inherited conditions about 2 to 3% of kidney cancers occur in people who have certain inherited syndromes, including von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary RCC and Birt Hogg-Dubé syndrome
  • exposure to toxic substances at work the risk may be higher after regular exposure to some chemicals, such as some metal degreasers, arsenic or cadmium.

Having these risk factors doesnt mean you will develop kidney cancer. Often there is no clear reason for getting kidney cancer. If you are worried about your risk factors, ask your doctor for advice.

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Who Is At Risk For Kidney Cancer

A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. The exact cause of someones cancer may not be known. But risk factors can make it more likely for a person to have cancer. Some risk factors may not be in your control. But others may be things you can change.

The risk factors for kidney cancer include:

  • Advanced or chronic kidney disease
  • Certain inherited conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease and hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Family history of kidney cancer

Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for kidney cancer and what you can do about those that are controllable.

Where Does Kidney Cancer Start

Kidney Cancer An Introduction

The kidneys are made up of different types of cells. The type of cancer you have depends on the type of cell the cancer starts in.

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell cancer. It starts in the cells lining the tubules inside the nephrons.

The main types of renal cell cancer are:

  • clear cell – around 75 out of 100 renal cell cancers
  • papillary – around 15 in 100 renal cell cancers
  • chromophobe – around 5 in 100 renal cell cancers

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Treatments For Renal Cell Carcinoma

There are five kinds of standard treatments for RCC. One or more may be used to treat your cancer.

  • Surgery can include different types of procedures. During a partial nephrectomy, part of the kidney is removed. During a nephrectomy, the entire kidney may be removed. Depending on how far the disease has spread, more extensive surgery may be needed to remove surrounding tissue, lymph nodes, and your adrenal gland. This is a radical nephrectomy. If both kidneys are removed, dialysis or a transplant is necessary.
  • Radiation therapy involves using high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. The radiation can be given externally by a machine or placed internally using seeds or wires.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given orally or intravenously, depending on what medication is chosen. This allows the drugs to go through the bloodstream and reach cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.
  • Biologic therapy, also called immunotherapy, works with your immune system to attack the cancer. Enzymes or substances made by the body are used to defend your body against the cancer.
  • Targeted therapy is a newer kind of cancer therapy. Drugs are used to attack certain cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Some drugs work on blood vessels to prevent blood flow to the tumor, starving and shrinking it.
  • Assessing The Extent And Spread

    If you are found to have a kidney cancer then other tests are likely to be advised. These may include one or more of: a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging scan of the abdomen and chest, a chest X-ray, kidney function blood tests and sometimes other tests. This assessment is called staging of the cancer.

    The aim of staging is to find out:

    • How much the tumour in the kidney has grown and whether it has grown to the edge, or through the outer part of the kidney.
    • Whether the cancer has spread to local lymph glands .
    • Whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body .

    Finding out the stage of the cancer helps doctors to advise on the best treatment options. It also gives a reasonable indication of outlook . See the separate leaflet called Stages of Cancer for more details.

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    How Is Renal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosed

    If your doctor suspects that you may have RCC, theyll ask about your personal and family medical history. Theyll then do a physical exam. Findings that can indicate RCC include swelling or lumps in the abdomen, or, in men, enlarged veins in the scrotal sac .

    If RCC is suspected, your doctor will order a number of tests to get an accurate diagnosis. These may include:

    • complete blood count a blood test conducted by drawing blood from your arm and sending it to a lab for evaluation
    • CT scan an imaging test that allows your doctor to take a closer look at your kidneys to detect any abnormal growth
    • abdominal and kidney ultrasounds a test that uses sound waves to create a picture of your organs, allowing your doctor to look for tumors and problems within the abdomen
    • urine examination tests used to detect blood in the urine and to analyze cells in the urine looking for evidence of cancer
    • biopsy the removal of a small piece of kidney tissue, done by inserting a needle into the tumor and drawing out a tissue sample, which is then sent to a pathology lab to rule out or confirm the presence of cancer

    If you are found to have RCC, more tests will be done to find out if and where the cancer has spread. This is called staging. RCC is staged from stage 1 to stage 4, in order of ascending severity. Staging tests can include a bone scan, PET scan, and chest X-ray.

    Approximately one-third of individuals with RCC have cancer that has spread at the time of diagnosis.

    How Do The Kidneys Work

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    Inside the kidney tiny networks of tubes called nephrons filter the blood. As blood passes through the nephrons all unwanted waste is taken away. Chemicals that your body needs are kept or returned to the bloodstream.

    Inside the nephrons waste products move from the small blood vessels into urine collecting tubes. The urine gathers in an area called the renal pelvis at the centre of each kidney. From here it drains down a tube called the ureter and into the bladder.

    There are 2 ureters, one from each kidney. Another tube called the urethra carries the urine from the bladder out of the body.

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    What Causes Kidney Cancer

    A cancerous tumour starts from one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply out of control. See the separate leaflet called Causes of Cancer for more details.

    In the UK, around 11,900 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. Many people develop kidney cancer for no apparent reason. However, certain risk factors increase the chance that kidney cancer may develop. These include:

    • Age. Most cases develop in people over the age of 60. It is uncommon in people aged under 50. It is also more common in men.
    • Smoking. About a third of kidney cancers are thought to be caused by smoking. Some of the chemicals from tobacco get into the body and are passed out in urine. These chemicals in the urine can be damaging to kidney tubule cells.
    • Other chemical carcinogens. Some workplace chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer – for example, asbestos, cadmium and some organic solvents.
    • Obesity. Obesity is an established risk factor for kidney cancer. About a quarter of kidney cancer cases are due to being overweight.
    • Kidney dialysis. People on long-term dialysis have an increased risk.
    • High blood pressure . There is a greater risk in people who have high blood pressure.
    • Genetic factors may play a role in some cases.

    Kidney Tumors Are Growths In The Kidneys That Can Be Benign Or Cancerous Most Do Not Cause Symptoms And Are Discovered Unexpectedly When You Are Being Diagnosed And Treated For Another Condition

    Kidney Tumor Overview and Symptoms

    The kidneys are organs in the abdomen that remove waste and extra water from the blood , and help keep chemicals balanced in the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells.

    Types of benign kidney tumors include:
    What is Kidney Cancer?

    If a kidney tumor is malignant, it is kidney cancer. The two main types of kidney cancer are renal cell cancer and transitional cell cancer. In adults, renal cell cancer, which begins in the lining of small tubes inside the kidney, is most common. Transitional cell cancer is far less common. Wilms tumor, another type of kidney cancer, is most frequently seen in children.

    Kidney cancer symptoms may include:
    • Blood in the urine
    • Pain or a lump in the lower back
    Kidney cancer diagnostic tests may include:

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    What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

    Learning everything you can about your kidney cancer diagnosis can empower you and help you make informed decisions about your treatment. Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider:

    • What type of kidney cancer do I have?
    • Where is the tumor?
    • Is the cancer localized, or has it spread?
    • What stage of kidney cancer do I have?
    • What are my treatment options?
    • Whats my prognosis?

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Receiving a kidney cancer diagnosis can be scary, saddening and frustrating. Like most cancers, kidney cancer treatment is more effective when its diagnosed early on. Your healthcare provider can talk with you about your treatment and give you additional resources to help you understand your options. You may also want to join a local support group or seek the help of a counselor or social worker. These things can help you maintain a healthy emotional outlook during this challenging time.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/06/2022.

    References

    What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney And Renal Pelvis Cancers

    The Kidney and Kidney Cancers | What Are Some Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

    A person with kidney or renal pelvis cancer may or may not have one or more of the symptoms listed here. The same symptoms can also come from other causes. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

    • Blood in the urine.
    • A lump or swelling in the kidney area or abdomen.
    • Lower back pain or pain in the side that doesnt go away.
    • Feeling tired often.
    • Fever that keeps coming back.
    • Not feeling like eating.
    • Losing weight for no reason that you know of.
    • Something blocking your bowels.

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    Mind & Body Therapies

    These combine mental focus, breathing, and body movements to help relax the body and mind. Some examples are:

    • Meditation: Focused breathing or repetition of words or phrases to quiet the mind
    • Biofeedback: Using simple machines, the patient learns how to affect certain body functions that are normally out of one’s awareness
    • Hypnosis: A state of relaxed and focused attention in which a person concentrates on a certain feeling, idea, or suggestion to aid in healing
    • Yoga: Systems of stretches and poses, with special attention given to breathing
    • Tai Chi: Involves slow, gentle movements with a focus on the breath and concentration
    • Imagery: Imagining scenes, pictures, or experiences to help the body heal
    • Creative outlets: Interests such as art, music, or dance

    What Do Kidneys Do

    A large renal artery takes blood to each kidney. The artery divides into many tiny blood vessels throughout the kidney. Tiny structures in the kidneys, called nephrons, filter the blood contained in the capillaries. Water and waste materials which filter through the walls of the capillaries into the nephrons form urine.

    Urine passes along thin channels which are part of each nephron, into larger channels which drain the urine into the inner part of the kidney .

    Urine passes down a tube called a ureter which goes from each kidney to the bladder.

    Urine is stored in the bladder until it is passed out through the tube called the urethra when we go to the toilet.

    The cleaned blood from each kidney collects into a large renal vein which takes the blood back towards the heart.

    Some specialised cells in the kidneys also make some hormones, including:

    • Renin – which helps to regulate blood pressure.
    • Erythropoietin – which helps to stimulate the bone marrow to make red blood cells.
    • Calcitriol – which helps to regulate the calcium level in the blood.

    Although it is normal to have two kidneys, we can live perfectly well with just one healthy kidney.

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