What is Kidney Cancer
There are two kidneys, one on each side of the spine, above the waist. The kidneys clean the blood to take out waste and make urine. Urine collects in the renal pelvis, the area at the center of the kidney, and then passes through the ureter, into the bladder, and out of the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and signal the bone marrow to make red blood cells when needed.
There are three main types of kidney cancer. Renal cell cancer is the most common type in adults and Wilms tumors are the most common in children. These types 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.
Kidney tumors may be benign or malignant.
A Snapshot of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer incidence increased from 1997 to 2008 before leveling off. The increase in incidence since the late 1990s reflects a rapid increase in early-stage disease that has been attributed in part to incidental diagnosis during abdominal imaging and may not represent a true increase in cancer occurrence. The overall mortality rate has fallen an average of 0.6 percent each year since 2001. Kidney cancer incidence and mortality rates are twice as high in men as in women. American Indians/Alaska Natives have higher kidney cancer incidence and mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.
The main risk factors for kidney cancer are smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and having certain inherited conditions. There are no recommended tests to screen for kidney cancer in people who are not at average risk of this disease. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to look for kidney cancer in people with an inherited condition that places them at high risk. Standard treatments for kidney cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, and targeted therapy.
Assuming that incidence and survival rates follow recent trends, it is estimated that $4.8 billion1 will be spent on kidney cancer care in the United States in 2014.