Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the cells in the kidney. The two most common types of kidney cancer are renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the renal pelvis. These names reflect the type of cell from which the cancer developed.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They’re located behind your abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of your spine.

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women. Common risk factors for kidney cancer include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, as well as certain genetic and hereditary factors.

In the early stages of kidney cancer, patients may have no symptoms. As a tumor grows larger, symptoms such as blood in the urine, back pain just below the ribs that doesn’t go away, weight loss, fatigue, intermittent fever might appear.

Kidney cancer

Diagnosis of kidney cancer usually involves a thorough physical exam, lab tests, imaging tests and sometimes, a biopsy. Treatment options for kidney cancer include surgery to remove the cancerous cells or tumor, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Early detection and treatment of kidney cancer significantly improve the survival rate. Regular check-ups and a healthy lifestyle may help prevent kidney cancer.

Causes of Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is a disease that begins in the kidneys. There are several factors that can increase your risk of kidney cancer. However, it’s important to note that having one or more of these doesn’t mean you will definitely get kidney cancer. Here are some causes and risk factors of kidney cancer:

1. Smoking: Smoking tobacco doubles the risk of kidney cancer. It is believed to cause about 30% of kidney cancers in men and about 25% in women.

2. Age: Kidney cancer is rare in people under the age of 50. The most common age for people to be diagnosed with kidney cancer is 60-70 years old.

3. Obesity: Fatty tissues produce hormones that might lead to kidney cancer.

4. High blood pressure (hypertension): Having high blood pressure increases the risk. It’s unclear whether the high blood pressure itself or the medications used to treat it are the cause.

5. Family history of kidney cancer: People who have a close family relative who had kidney cancer have a higher risk of getting the disease. The risk is also higher in people with inherited conditions like von Hippel-Lindau disease.

6. Chronic Kidney Disease: People with advanced kidney disease, especially those on long-term dialysis, have a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.

7. Occupational exposure: Certain substances, including asbestos, cadmium and certain organic solvents, have been linked to kidney cancer.

8. Gender: Men are about twice as likely as women to get kidney cancer.

9. Certain medications: Some drugs such as diuretics or certain pain medications have been linked with a higher risk of kidney cancer.

10. Race/Ethnicity: African Americans have a slightly higher rate of kidney cancer, and the reasons for this are unclear.

Remember, having any of these risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get kidney cancer. If you suspect you may be at risk, you should discuss this with your doctor. Regular check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals can help reduce your risk.

Risk Factors of Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the kidney. Several factors can increase your risk of kidney cancer, including:

1. Age: The risk of kidney cancer tends to increase with age, with most cases being diagnosed in people aged 50 or older.

2. Smoking: Cigarette smoking can increase the risk of developing kidney cancer. This risk can decrease if you quit smoking.

3. Obesity: People who are obese have a higher risk of kidney cancer compared to those with a healthy weight.

4. High blood pressure (hypertension): High blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of kidney cancer.

5. Family history of kidney cancer: You’re more likely to get kidney cancer if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has had the disease.

6. Certain inherited syndromes: People with certain inherited syndromes such as Von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and hereditary papillary renal carcinoma are at increased risk.

7. Chronic kidney disease: Patients with advanced kidney disease, especially those who need dialysis, have a higher risk.

8. Exposure to certain substances: Workers exposed to certain substances during manufacturing processes, including cadmium and certain herbicides, may be at a higher risk.

9. Race: African Americans, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives may have a higher risk compared to individuals from other races.

10. Gender: Men are more likely to develop kidney cancer than women.

It’s important to note that having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will develop kidney cancer. Many people with kidney cancer may have no known risk factors, while others with one or more risk factors may never develop the disease. If you’re concerned about your risk of kidney cancer, you should consult your doctor.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. However, as the cancer progresses, it may start to present a few noticeable changes. These signs and symptoms may include:

1. Blood in urine: One of the most common symptoms is hematuria, or blood in the urine. The urine may look pink, red, or cola-colored due to the presence of blood.

2. Back or abdominal pain: This pain is consistent and does not alleviate over time. It’s often located below the ribs and on either side of the spine.

3. Weight loss: Unexplained and sudden weight loss could be a sign of kidney cancer.

4. Fatigue: A significant and continuous lack of energy is also a common symptom.

5. Low-grade fever: Some people may experience recurrent low-grade fevers.

6. Swelling of ankles and legs: Advanced kidney cancer can cause swelling in the legs and ankles due to fluid accumulation, called edema.

7. Anemia: Kidney cancer might cause a drop in red blood cell count, leading to anemia.

8. A lump or mass in the abdominal area: A noticeable lump or mass in the kidney area may be a sign, though it is more commonly detected via imaging tests.

9. Loss of appetite: Kidney cancer patients may lose their appetite, have a change in taste preferences, or experience a sour taste in their mouth that can lead to weight loss.

Remember, these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than kidney cancer, such as kidney stones or infection. If you notice any significant changes or symptoms, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Diagnosis Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the kidneys. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They’re located behind your abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of your spine.

The most common type of kidney cancer in adults is renal cell carcinoma, which usually begins in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney (tubules). Other less common types of kidney cancer can occur. Young children are more likely to develop a kind of kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumor.

Factors that can increase the risk of kidney cancer include:

1. Older age,
2. Smoking,
3. Certain genetic conditions,
4. High blood pressure,
5. Treatment for kidney failure,
6. Obesity,
7. Being male.

The symptoms of kidney cancer might not appear until the disease is in its advanced stages. The most common symptoms are blood in the urine, back pain just below the ribs that doesn’t go away, weight loss, and fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor.

Treatment options for kidney cancer include surgery to remove the cancerous cells or the whole kidney, drugs that use your immune system to fight cancer (immunotherapy), targeted drug therapy, and in some rare cases, radiation therapy.

Remember, early detection is always best for treating any kind of cancer, so it’s important to maintain regular check-ups with your doctor.

Treatment of Kidney cancer

Treatment for kidney cancer depends on the size and spread of the cancer. Here are some common treatments:

1. Surgery: The most common treatment for kidney cancer is surgery to remove the kidney, a procedure known as a nephrectomy. In some cases where cancer has only affected a small part of the kidney, only the affected part of the kidney is removed (partial nephrectomy). However, some cases require the whole kidney to be removed (radical nephrectomy).

2. Ablation and embolization: Ablation uses extreme cold or high-energy radio waves to kill the tumor. In embolization, a substance is injected to block the blood flow to the tumor in order to prevent its growth.

3. Targeted therapy: These are drugs that identify and attack cancer cells while doing little damage to normal cells. They interfere with the way the tumor grows and uses blood vessels.

4. Immunotherapy: This is a type of biological therapy that boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune function.

5. Radiation therapy: High doses of radiation are used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This therapy isn’t commonly used in kidney cancer as kidney cells are often resistant to radiation.

6. Chemotherapy: It uses drugs to kill rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. It’s not typically used for kidney cancer as the cells usually don’t respond to it. However, it may be used if targeted drugs and immunotherapy fail to control the cancer cells.

It’s important to remember that treatment options largely depend on several factors: the stage and grade of cancer, the patient’s overall health and personal preferences, whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred. The patient’s doctor is the best person to discuss the most suitable treatment options with.

Medications commonly used for Kidney cancer

Sure, the types of drugs often used to fight kidney cancer can be grouped into a few categories:

1. Targeted Therapies: These medications attack specific types of cancer cells decreasing their ability to grow and survive, and often provide a better quality of life than chemotherapy drugs. A few examples include:
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs): e.g., Sutent (sunitinib), Nexavar (sorafenib), Inlyta (axitinib), and Cabometyx (cabozantinib).
mTOR inhibitors: e.g., Torisel (temsirolimus) and Afinitor (everolimus).
VEGF inhibitiors: e.g., Avastin (bevacizumab).

2. Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These are drugs that boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Examples include Opdivo (nivolumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

3. Cytokine therapy: This is an older type of immunotherapy that can still be used in certain cases. The two most common cytokines used are interferons and interleukin-2 (IL-2, Proleukin).

4. Chemotherapy: Although chemotherapy is not a primary treatment for kidney cancer, it may be used when other treatments are not successful. Drugs like Gemzar (gemcitabine) might be used.

Kidney cancer

Please note that the suitability of each medication depends on the specific types, stages, and features of the kidney cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health condition. Always refer to a healthcare professional for proper treatment options.

Prevention of Kidney cancer

Preventing kidney cancer may not always be possible, but certain habits can certainly reduce the risk.

1. Smoking: It is crucial to either quit smoking or not start at all. This reduces your risk not only of kidney cancer but also of various other cancers.

2. Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can also decrease the risk. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight could reduce your risk of developing kidney cancer.

3. Healthy Diet: A diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help you limit your risk.

4. Physical Activity: Regular physical activity can also lead to a healthier weight and lessened risk of kidney cancer.

5. Lower Blood Pressure: High blood pressure increases the risk of kidney cancer. Control your blood pressure through a healthy diet, regular exercise, limiting your intake of alcohol and sodium, and taking blood pressure medication if necessary.

6. Limit Alcohol: Drink alcohol in moderation. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of kidney cancer.

7. Limit exposure to toxins: Certain jobs may expose you to chemicals that increase your risk of kidney cancer. This includes certain types such as asbestos, cadmium, and some organic solvents, particularly trichloroethylene.

8. Regular Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups can help detect kidney cancer at an early stage, when it’s easier to treat.

It’s important to note that even with these preventative measures, there’s no surefire way to prevent kidney cancer. Early detection and diagnosis are key to successful treatment. So it’s important to work closely with your doctor, especially if you have certain risk factors associated with kidney cancer such as chronic kidney disease, inherited syndromes, or family history.

FAQ’s about Kidney cancer

Sure, here are some common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about kidney cancer:

1. What is kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. It might start within the lining of the kidney’s tubes, known as renal cell carcinoma which is the most common type.

2. What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
In its early stages, kidney cancer often causes no symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include blood in the urine, lower back pain on one side, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, fever, and swelling in the ankles and legs.

3. What are the risk factors for kidney cancer?
Factors that may increase risk include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, history of kidney failure, certain inherited syndromes, exposure to certain workplace substances and older age.

4. How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
Doctors may use several tests to diagnose kidney cancer, including blood and urine tests, imaging tests (such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI), and biopsy.

5. How is kidney cancer treated?
Treatment for kidney cancer depends on the stage and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s health. Options could include surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these.

6. What is the survival rate for kidney cancer?
This largely depends on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. The 5-year survival rate for localized kidney cancer, when the disease is only in the kidneys and hasn’t spread, is about 93%.

7. Can kidney can be prevented?
There’s not a sure way to prevent kidney cancer, however, several risk factors can be controlled, for example, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, manage blood pressure, and limit exposure to harmful workplace substances.

Remember that these are general answers. Specific circumstances can depend on a lot of factors and may change the answers to these questions. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Useful links

Kidney Cancer, also known as Renal Cell Carcinoma, is a type of cancer that occurs when the cells in the kidney undergo malignant changes, leading to uncontrolled growth and creating a tumor. The exact cause of this cancer is unknown, although several risk factors have been identified such as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Here are a few useful links from journals and reputable sources about Kidney Cancer:


Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice.

Complications of Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, has several potential complications that can affect a patient’s health and lifestyle. It’s crucial to note that these complications vary based on the stage of cancer, the effectiveness of treatment, and each individual’s overall health.

1. Metastasis: This is perhaps the most severe complication. It is where the cancer cells spread from the kidney to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, bones, or brain. This is often more difficult to treat and can increase the severity of symptoms.

2. Kidney function: Having kidney cancer could result in loss of kidney function, especially if a kindey has to be removed through surgery. In the case where both kidneys are affected, the patient may need dialysis or kidney transplantation.

3. Emotional distress: Like any cancer, kidney cancer can cause significant emotional and psychological stress, leading to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Dealing with a chronic illness can also cause financial and social challenges.

4. Post-surgical complications: These can include pain, risk of infection, bleeding, damage to surrounding organs, bowel obstruction, and recover time can be lengthy.

5. Side effects of treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy can lead to nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, vulnerability to infections, skin problems, etc. Targeted therapy can cause high blood pressure and problems with bleeding and clotting.

6. Paraneoplastic syndromes: These are rare disorders that are triggered by an altered immune response to the kidney tumor. They might cause symptoms like fever, weight loss, high blood pressure, high levels of calcium in blood, etc.

Remember, early detection and treatment can significantly increase the likelihood of living with kidney cancer successfully. Anyone experiencing potential signs of kidney cancer, such as blood in urine or chronic back pain, should consult a healthcare provider for advice as soon as possible.

Home remedies of Kidney cancer

There are no home remedies for treating kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is a serious medical condition that requires medical attention. Treatment options for kidney cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and other treatments as determined by an oncologist or specialist.

However, if you’re looking at home remedies to support overall kidney health, those could include:

1. Maintaining a healthy diet: Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help keep your kidneys functioning properly.

2. Staying well-hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help your kidneys filter waste from your body.

3. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can contribute to overall good health and kidney health.

4. No smoking and limited alcohol consumption: Both of these habits can lead to kidney problems.

5. Regular Check-Ups: Regular health check-ups can ensure early detection and treatment of kidney issues.

Again, these tips are for maintaining kidney health, not for treating kidney cancer. Always consult with a healthcare provider for appropriate treatment if you suspect you have kidney cancer.

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Last Update: January 3, 2024