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About Kidney Cancer

Learn more about the types, subtypes, stages, grades, and potential risk factors for kidney cancer.

Kidney Cancer Types and Subtypes

Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

Clear cell RCC is the most common form of kidney cancer and makes up between 66% and 75% of all cases. When it is localized or isolated, it can typically be treated with surgery. Clear cell RCC that has metastasized, or spread, is usually treated with A type of drug treatment that works throughout the body to treat cancer cells wherever they are located.systemic therapy

Because clear cell RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer, there have been more studies done on this type. In the last 15 years, many drug treatments have received FDA approval for treating metastatic clear cell RCC. Clear cell RCC can be The passing of genetic information from parent to child through parental genes.hereditary or non-hereditary.

Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma

Papillary RCC is the second most common form of kidney cancer and makes up about 15% of all cases. Papillary RCC is a non-clear cell renal carcinoma which is different from the more common clear cell type. There are two main types of papillary RCC: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 tumors tend to be slower growing, and type 2 tumors tend to be faster growing and are more likely to spread. Papillary RCC can be The passing of genetic information from parent to child through parental genes.hereditary or non-hereditary.

Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma

Chromophobe RCC is a rare form of kidney cancer that makes up approximately 5% of all cases. It is a non-clear cell renal carcinoma that starts in the cells that line the tubes in the kidney that help filter waste from blood. Chromophobe RCC can be The passing of genetic information from parent to child through parental genes.hereditary or non-hereditary.

Rare non clear cell RCC subtypes

  • Collecting duct carcinoma: A very rare and aggressive type of RCC. At initial diagnosis, it is usually metastatic and has spread to other parts of the body. It is more common in younger people.
  • Translocation RCC: A rare type of kidney cancer. This cancer can be identified by seeing mutations, or changes, in a gene called TFE3. This type affects children and young adults but can also affect older adults.
  • Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC): This is a very rare type of kidney cancer. It affects young people who carry the sickle cell trait or have sickle cell disease. These cancers are usually metastatic—spread to other parts of the body–at diagnosis.
  • Unclassified RCC: Less than 1% of RCCs are unclassified. They are very rare and do not easily fit into one of the more common subtypes. They tend to be more aggressive.

Other types of non clear cell kidney cancer

  • Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC): They are also known as urothelial carcinomas. TCCs do not start in the kidney but in the transitional cells in the lining of the renal pelvis. This cancer can look like other types of urothelial cancer such as bladder cancer. However, people with TCC will often have the same symptoms as people with kidney cancer, like blood in the urine and back pain. TCC is rare and can be aggressive.
  • Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma): This tumor almost always occurs in children and is very rare in adults. About 90% of kidney cancers in children are Wilms tumors.
  • Renal sarcoma: This is a rare type of kidney cancer that begins in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidney.

Benign kidney tumors

Benign kidney tumors are not cancerous and will not spread, but they can grow and cause problems. Many of the same treatments utilized for A cancerous tumor.malignant kidney tumors can be used for benign tumors. Some of the most common benign tumor types are:

  • Angiomyolipoma is the most common benign kidney tumor and often affects women or people with tuberous sclerosis, a rare inherited condition. If they are not causing symptoms, they can be monitored. However, if they cause problems, they will have to be removed through surgery.
  • Oncocytoma is another benign kidney tumor. They do not spread, but they can grow and cause other problems that require surgery. They are thought to be related to chromophobe RCC.

Kidney Cancer Stages and Grades

The stage describes how much cancer is found in your body. For example, an early stage cancer is a tumor found only in the kidney while a later stage cancer has spread to other areas of the body. The grade of the tumor describes how abnormal the tumor’s cells appear under a microscope. It can indicate how quickly the tumor is likely to grow. Understanding the stage of your cancer and the potential treatment options can help you have more informed discussions with your healthcare team and increase your confidence that you are making the right decision about your health and treatment.

Stage I:

  • The tumor is only found in the kidney, smaller than 7cm, and has not spread. Stage I is further divided if the tumor is smaller than 4cm and less than 7cm. Your surgeon will help you to further understand the size and importance of a Stage 1 kidney tumor.

Stage II:

  • The tumor is only found in the kidney, is larger than 7cm, and has not spread.

Stage III:

  • The tumor has grown outside the kidney but not into the adrenal glands. Cancer may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant sites.
  • The tumor is only found in the kidney, but the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV:

  • The tumor has grown outside of the kidney and may be in the adrenal gland. Cancer may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant sites.
  • The tumor is of any size, may or may not extend beyond the kidney or to the nearby lymph nodes. Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.
What Caused my Kidney Cancer?

Some risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing kidney cancer but people without any risk factors can still get kidney cancer. Some of the risk factors that may make you more likely to get kidney cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure, even if managed with blood pressure medications
  • Having a family history of kidney cancer, especially if you have a sibling with kidney cancer
  • Certain workplace exposures such as trichloroethylene (TCE), which is found in refrigerants, solvents, adhesives, paint and paint removers, and pesticides
  • Gender, as kidney cancer is twice as common in men as in women
  • Race and ethnicity, as black Americans have a slightly higher rate of kidney cancer
  • Having advanced kidney disease, especially if you need The process of filtering blood when the kidneys are not able to cleanse it.dialysis

Genetic and hereditary risk factors can increase someone’s chance of developing kidney cancer. Some rare genetic conditions can also cause kidney cancer. Even though people with these conditions are at a much higher risk, hereditary kidney cancers make up only about 3 to 5% of all kidney cancer.

  • Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome is a condition where cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and cysts form in the body. This condition is associated with a high risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome is a rare condition that affects the skin and lungs. It can also increase the risk of tumor, including kidney cancer tumors. People with BHD can have benign skin tumors on the face, neck, and upper chest.
  • Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC) is a rare genetic disorder where benign tumors grow on the skin. Women may also develop benign tumors or fibroids in the uterus. About 10% to 16% of people with HLRCC develop kidney cancer, typically in their 40’s.
  • Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma (HPRCC) is a syndrome that can result in kidney cancer, especially in someone’s 40’s. HPRCC may cause small tumors in the kidneys and/or other lesions that cause pain or blood in the urine. HPRCC usually causes type 1 papillary RCC.
  • Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disease that causes tumors in the brain and other organs. It has been associated with renal cell carcinoma.  

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