Renal Cell Carcinoma

What is renal cell carcinoma?


  • Renal cell carcinoma is a type of kidney that starts in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney.



Who is impacted?


  • Renal cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of kidney cancer in adults and occurs most often in males between 50 to 70 years old. The exact cause of it is unknown but the following may increase your risk of developing kidney cancer:
    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • Dialysis treatment
    • Family history of the disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Horseshoe kidney
    • Long-term use of certain medicines, such as pain pills or water pills (diuretics)
    • Polycystic kidney disease
    • Von Hippel-Lindau disease (a hereditary disease that affects blood vessels in the brain, eyes, and other body parts)
    • Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome (a genetic disease associated with benign skin tumors and lung cysts)



How is renal cell carcinoma diagnosed?


  • Typically, after a physical exam, if a mass or swelling of the abdomen is detected, additional tests may be ordered:
    • Abdominal CT scan
    • Blood chemistry
    • CBC
    • IV pyelogram
    • Liver function tests
    • Renal arteriography
    • Ultrasound of the abdomen and kidney
    • Urinalysis
  • Additional tests may be done to determine if it has spread:
    • Abdominal MRI
    • Biopsy
    • Bone scan
    • Chest x-ray
    • Chest CT scan
    • PET scan



How is renal cell carcinoma treated?


  • Surgical treatment is typically done by removing all or part of the kidney also known as nephrectomy. This surgery may involve removing the bladder, surrounding tissues, or lymph nodes. It is highly unlikely for a cure to occur unless all of the cancer is removed during surgery. But even if some cancer is left, doing the surgery is still considered beneficial.
  • Chemotherapy is not necessarily done for the treatment of kidney cancer in adults. Nivolumab may help with the treatment of some people.
  • Radiation therapy is typically done when the cancer spreads to the bone or brain.