Kidney Cancer: Understanding the Disease and Treatment Options

Kidney Cancer: Understanding the Disease and Treatment Options



Kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma, is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the upper abdominal area that filter waste from the blood and produce urine. Kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in both men and women.

Types of Kidney Cancer:

  • Renal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for about 90% of all cases.
  • Transitional cell carcinoma: This type of kidney cancer starts in the cells that line the tubes of the urinary system and is more common in the bladder than in the kidneys.


  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the side or lower back that does not go away
  • A mass or lump in the side or lower back
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss


Risk Factors

  • Smoking: Smoking is a leading cause of kidney cancer and the risk increases with the number of years a person smokes and the amount of tobacco they use.
  • Obesity: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • Age: The risk of developing kidney cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in people over the age of 60.
  • Family history: People with a family history of kidney cancer are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Long-term dialysis: People who have received long-term dialysis for kidney disease are at a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Chemical exposure: Certain chemicals, such as asbestos, benzene, and trichloroethylene, have been linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer.


  • Physical examination: A physical examination may be performed to feel for lumps or masses in the abdomen or back.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound, may be used to view the inside of the abdomen and detect any abnormal growths.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy may be performed to remove a small sample of tissue from the kidney for examination under a microscope.

Treatment Options

  • Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for kidney cancer and may involve removing the entire affected kidney (nephrectomy) or just a portion of the kidney.

  • Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.

  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that boosts the body's natural defenses to fight cancer.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells and is typically used to treat advanced or metastatic kidney cancer.



  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don't smoke
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and high in fiber



Kidney cancer can be a serious disease, but with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the prognosis is often good. Regular check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and being aware of the risk factors can help reduce the risk of developing kidney cancer. If you have any symptoms or concerns, it is important to speak with your doctor and seek prompt medical attention.

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