Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer

Cancer Types - Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer

Illustration of the anatomy of the kidney
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What is kidney cancer?

Most cancers are named after the part of the body where the cancer first begins, and kidney cancer is no exception. Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys-- two large, bean-shaped organs--one located to the left, and the other to the right of the backbone. Renal is the Latin word for kidney, and kidney cancer may also be referred to as renal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 65,000 people in the U.S. were expected to be diagnosed with kidney and renal pelvic cancers in 2012. The most common type is called renal cell cancer. The information contained on this page refers to renal cell cancer.

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.

Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors.

But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.

What are the risk factors for renal cell cancer?

The exact cause of renal cell cancer is unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that are linked to it. These risk factors, according to the American Cancer Society, are as follows:

What are the symptoms of renal cell cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms of renal cell cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of renal cell cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is kidney cancer (renal cell cancer) diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for kidney cancer may include the following:

Based on results of other tests and procedures, a biopsy may be needed. A biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of the tumor is removed and sent to the laboratory for examination by a pathologist.

How is kidney cancer treated?

Specific treatment for kidney cancer will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment may include:

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, you may want to consider getting a second opinion. In fact, some insurance companies require a second opinion for such diagnoses. According to the ACS, it's rare that the time it will take to get a second opinion will have a negative impact on your treatment. The peace of mind a second opinion provides may be well worth the effort.

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