Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys — two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine.

In a healthy person, the main job of the kidneys is to filter blood by removing waste and extra water and salt to make urine.

The kidneys also make specific hormones that help the body control blood pressure and produce red blood cells.

Kidney cancer happens when healthy cells in a kidney grow out of control and form a tumor.

As with most cancers, the earlier kidney cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outlook.

Researchers are currently looking at innovative ways to detect and target kidney cancer more effectively.

“There have been significant advances in kidney cancer over the last decade and the field is rapidly changing,” says Chung-Han Lee, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Types of Kidney Cancer

There are many different types of kidney cancer, each of which may be managed and treated differently.

Renal cell carcinoma About 90 percent of all kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas.

With renal cell carcinoma, cancer cells grow in the lining of the kidney tubules and form into a tumor.

(The tiny tubules play an essential role in filtering waste and returning needed nutrients to the bloodstream.)

This type of cancer usually develops as a single mass, although sometimes one kidney will contain multiple tumors. In other cases, tumors might affect both kidneys at the same time.

There are several subtypes of renal cell carcinoma, which are divided into two main categories: clear cell renal carcinomas and non-clear cell renal carcinomas.

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of renal cell carcinoma, making up about 70 percent of cases. With clear cell renal cell carcinoma, cancer cells appear very pale or clear, which explains its name.

Non-clear cell renal cell carcinomas include the following:

Papillary renal cell carcinomas These cancer cells create finger-like projections, known as papillae, in the tumor. This is the second most common subtype of renal cell carcinoma, making up about 10 percent of cases.

Chromophobe renal cell carcinomas Cancer cells in this type appear pale like clear cells but are much larger and have other distinct features. This subtype accounts for about 5 percent of renal cell carcinomas.

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