Understanding Kidney Cancer

Understanding Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is cancer that forms in the kidneys.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that are about the size of a small fist and sit on each side of the spine, above the waist. Their primary job is to clean the blood and produce urine to rid the body of waste.

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women; however, a person's lifetime risk for being told they have the disease is about 1 in 63 (1.6%).

While there are several types of kidney cancer, the follow¬ing two are the most common in adults:

  1. Renal Cell Cancer - the most common type of kidney cancer in adults. 
  2. Transitional Cell Cancer - accounts for about 15 per¬cent of adult kidney cancer cases. This cancer forms in the renal pelvis, which is the area of the kidney where urine collects before it moves to the bladder. 

Risk factors for kidney cancer include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and a family history of the disease. Common signs of kidney cancer are blood in the urine, lower back pain or a lump in the lower back or side. If you have these symptoms, your doctor will do a physical exam and may order urine tests, blood tests or imaging tests like an ultrasound. Treatments may involve surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Fortunately, most kidney cancers are found before they've spread to other organs and tissues (metastasis).

For more facts about kidney cancer, visit our Urologic Conditions article.  

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