The kidneys also make specific hormones that help the body control blood pressure and produce red blood cells.
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.
(The tiny tubules play an essential role in filtering waste and returning needed nutrients to the bloodstream.)
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.
Rarer types Other infrequently seen types of renal cell carcinoma include medullary carcinoma; collecting duct RCC; multilocular cystic RCC; mucinous tubular and spindle cell carcinoma; and neuroblastoma-associated RCC.
In addition, some renal cell carcinomas are described as “unclassified,” either because they include more than one type of cancer cell or they don’t fit into any of the existing groupings.
Other Types of Kidney Cancer
- Transitional cell carcinoma Instead of starting in the kidney itself, these cancers start in the lining of the renal pelvis — the area where the ureters, tiny tubes that carry urine to the bladder, meet the kidneys.
- Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma) This type of kidney cancer primarily affects children.
- Renal sarcoma Renal sarcomas begin in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidney. They are rare, making up less than 1 percent of all kidney cancers.