We typically have two kidneys—each located above the waist on either side of the backbone. The kidney’s job is to remove waste product from our blood through tiny filters called tubules. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a malignant growth that originates in these tubules.
Since the 1990s the incidence of RCC has increased due to the introduction of more advanced diagnostic technology such as ultrasound and CT scans identifying some cancers which might not have been found otherwise. The American Cancer Society estimates about 73,820 new cases of kidney cancer (44,120 in men and 29,700 in women) will be diagnosed in 2019. Additionally, about 14,770 people will die from this disease.
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Although a singular cause of RCC is unknown, research indicates several contributing factors, including:
Although most patients have no symptoms, patients should call a doctor if they experience:
Testing usually includes blood work, urinalysis, a CT scan or an MRI, and a biopsy. A CT scan can identify a growth in the kidney. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, further tests (blood test to check the health of the liver, chest X-ray, bone scan) help determine if the cancer has spread beyond the kidney.
Knowing the stage of the disease helps inform the treatment plan:
We base our kidney cancer treatment approach on each patient’s situation.
Treatments for local growth (stages I and II) include:
Metastatic growths (stages III and IV):