Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a condition where cancer cells grow in the kidney. There are three main types of kidney cancer – renal cell cancer, Wilms tumours and transitional cell cancer. Renal cell cancer is the most common type in adults and Wilms tumours are the most common in children. These types of cancer form in the tissues of the kidney that make urine. Transitional cell cancer forms in the renal pelvis and ureter in adults.

Smoking and taking certain pain medicines for a long time can increase the risk of adult kidney cancer. Certain inherited disorders can increase the risk of kidney cancer in children and adults. These include Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome and hereditary papillary renal cancer.

People are usually diagnosed with kidney cancer when they are in their 60s. It’s rarely found in people younger than age 45. Generally, our lifetime risk for developing cancer in the kidney is about 1 in 63 (1.6%). This risk is higher in men than in women.

With timely diagnosis and treatment, kidney cancer can be cured.


Symptoms for kidney cancer are not generally apparent. They may appear as the cancer grows. See your doctor if you notice:

  • Blood in your urine
  • A lump in your abdomen
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Pain in your side that does not go away
  • Loss of appetite
Diagnosis and Treatment

Unfortunately, there are no blood or urine tests that directly detect kidney cancer. In a lot of cases, a tumour is diagnosed during routine screening for people with genetic risks (e.g., Von Hippel-Lindau disease, tuberous sclerosis). Or it is found by chance when a person visits a doctor about an unrelated problem.

Treatment depends on the age, overall health and how advanced the cancer is. It might include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, as well as biologic or targeted therapies. Biologic therapy boosts your body’s own ability to fight cancer. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack the cancer cells without harming the normal cells. When kidney cancer is caught early, the chances of a surgical cure are good.