About Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer Statistics

In the United States, it’s estimated that over 54,000 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed in 2008, resulting in over 13,000 deaths. Approximately one in 75 people will develop kidney cancer in their lifetime. Nearly 65% of patients are diagnosed incidentally with imaging (CT, MRI, Ultrasound), without having any symptoms.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

The majority of kidney tumors are found after abdominal films are ordered for other medical issues. The clinical signs and symptoms are often absent since the majority of tumors are small when diagnosed radiographically. Larger tumors are more likely to present with clinical symptoms such as: pain, bloody urine or weight loss.

Some signs and symptoms of larger tumors may include:

  • Flank pain (flank pain occurs in the kidney region in the middle to lower back, and typically it is felt in an area that stretches from the lower ribs in the mid back below the shoulder blade around to the front of the abdomen)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody urine
  • Weight loss

Once the tumor is identified, the CT scan, ultrasound or MRI is thoroughly reviewed to help determine what treatment modality is best suited for the patient. Imaging does not provide a definitive diagnosis (whether the tumor is benign or malignant). Determination of whether the tumor is benign or malignant can only be done through the careful review of a pathologist after specimen removal.

Types of Kidney Cancer

90% of kidney cancers are known as Renal Cell Carcinoma. These arise as an abnormal growth of renal parenchyma (“bean” shaped portion of the kidney). The rest of renal tumors are known as Transitional Cell Carcinoma, which arise from the collecting system of the kidney (drainage portion of the kidney).