Kidney Cancer

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About Kidney Cancer

Each year in the United States, about 51,000 adults will learn that they have kidney cancer. If you have been told that you have the disease, here are some things you should know.

There are two main types of kidney cancer: Renal cell cancer and transitional cell cancer. Renal cell is the most common type in adults. It begins in the lining of the renal tubules (tiny tubes) in the kidney. The renal tubules clean the blood and make urine. Renal cell cancer may metastasize, which means it may spread to other parts of the body, most often the bones or lungs. Statistics show that about 30% of people who are diagnosed with renal cell cancer develop advanced (metastatic) disease.

Transitional cell cancer is far less common than renal cell. Another type of kidney cancer, called Wilm's tumor, is most often seen in children.

Signs and Symptoms

In the early stages, renal cell cancer usually causes no clear signs or symptoms. However, as the tumor grows, symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • A lump or mass in the area of the back near the kidneys

Less often, patients may have:

  • A constant pain in the side near a kidney
  • High blood pressure or anemia (a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the blood)

These symptoms can also be caused by less serious problems such as a benign (non-cancerous) cyst (fluid-filled tumor) or an infection. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your doctor. He or she will do some tests to find out what is causing your problem.

For more information about Kidney Cancer, visit the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Cancer page.