Kidney Cancer – Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Kidneys in your body are two bean-shaped organs and each is about the size of your fist. They’re placed at the back of your abdominal organs, one kidney being on each side of the spine.

Kidney cancer happens when cells in the kidneys grow out of control. These cells form a mass known as tumours.

As with other cancers, early detection is the key for positive treatment.

The frequency of kidney cancer seems to be on a rise. One particular reason is the often use of imaging techniques like computerized tomography (CT) scans. These tests can lead to the accidental detection of more kidney cancers.

Kidney cancer is usually discovered at an early stage, when the cancer is minor and limited only to the kidney.

As we observe this World Kidney cancer day, we’ve listed some important aspects you must know to properly deal with this ailment and live a happy life.


 Types of Kidney Cancer

The main types of kidney cancer are as follows:


1. Transitional cell cancer: Transitional cell carcinoma often develops in the area where your ureter joins with the main part of your kidney. This area is known as renal pelvis. This type is usually found in almost 7% of all kidney cancer cases.


Although, this type can also develop in your bladder or ureters.


2. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC): This type alone accounts for almost 85% of all kidney cancers in adults. The most common type of RCC is clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC).


Renal cell carcinoma usually develops as a single tumour in one kidney. However, it can affect both the kidneys. The cancer starts in the cells that line your kidney’s tubules.


3. Wilms tumour: While RCC is the most common kidney cancer type in adults, Wilms tumour often develops in children, being present in almost 5% of all kidney cancers.


4. Renal sarcoma: Renal sarcoma is the least common type, occurring in only 1% of all cases. It starts in the connective tissues of your kidneys. If not treated at time, it can easily spread to nearby bones and organs.



While kidney cancer generally doesn’t show any signs in its early stages, with time, the symptoms may develop. They are:

1. Unexplained weight loss
2. Fatigue
3. Fever
4. Presence of blood in your urine (Urine may appear as red, pink or cola coloured)
5. Loss of appetite
6. Consistent pain in your back or side


Risk factors

While the exact cause of kidney cancer is still not clear, there are a few possible risk factors that one must avoid to lower the risks of kidney cancer.

1. Bad diet and obesity
2. High blood pressure (Hypertension)
3. Smoking
4. Exposure to chlorinate chemicals at the workplace
5. Heredity (Family history), which accounts for about 6% of kidney cancer cases
6. Treatment for kidney failure (Usually those who receive long-term dialysis)



Your healthcare provider may perform a complete medical history check-up and physical tests. These tests are:

1. Ultrasound: This test involves the use of high-frequency sound waves. These waves are transmitted through body tissues to create images that are then displayed on a monitor.


This test is useful to detect tumours since they have different densities from normal tissues.


2. Urinalysis: Your urine sample is taken and tested to check the presence of blood. Even minute traces of blood, invisible to the naked eye, can be discovered in urinalysis.


3. Blood test: Blood tests count the number of different kinds of blood cells and observe various electrolytes present in the body.


A blood test can help you know whether you have a few red blood cells (anaemia), or if your kidney function is weakened (by observing the creatinine).


 4. CT scan: This is a specialised X-ray that involves using a computer to create a series of images or slices of the inside of your body.


This test is usually performed with intravenous contrast (dye). People with diminished kidney function may not be able to accept the dye.


5. Magnetic Resource Imaging (MRI): This test produces images of your body’s insides using a computer, a large magnet and radio waves.



Kidney cancer treatment is decided based on the stage, grade of the tumour and overall health. In most cases, surgery is performed.

Other options also include such as:  radiation therapy, ablation, ablation, targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy.


1. Surgeries

Various surgical options may be considered, such as:

i. Radical nephrectomy: In this option, the kidney adrenal gland and the surrounding tissue are removed. It may also include the removal of nearby lymph nodes. This is the most common option considered for kidney cancer.


ii. Simple nephrectomy: In this, the kidney is only removed.


3. Partial nephrectomy: This option involves the removal of cancer in the kidney along with some tissue around it.


This procedure is usually done for individuals with smaller tumours, or in those patients in which a radical nephrectomy might damage the other kidney.


2. Ablation

Patients who aren’t fit for surgery may benefit from cryoablation or radiofrequency ablation.

i. Cryoablation: This technique uses cold gas to freeze the tumour and kill it.

ii. Radiofrequency ablation: This technique uses high-energy radio waves to “cook” the tumour and destroy it.


3. Radiation therapy

This therapy may be recommended by your doctor if you have only one kidney or if you are not a suitable candidate for surgery.

Radiation therapy is mostly performed for lessening kidney cancer symptoms like pain.


4. Targeted drug therapy

Targeted drug therapy is used to block specific characteristics that help the cancer cells boom. For instance, the drugs under this therapy can hamper the growth of proteins or new blood vessels that feed cancer.

This option is usually used when surgery isn’t desirable. In fact, in some cases, these drugs are given post-surgery to reduce the odds of cancer developing back.


5. Immunotherapy

This therapy uses certain medications to give a boost to your immune system. This aids your body to identify and kill cancer cells successfully.

Immunotherapy may be given as a separate treatment option or along with surgery.


6. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy isn’t a typical treatment option for kidney cancer. However, it can prove beneficial in some cases – but only after trying targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy.

Medications under this technique may be either taken through the mouth or via a vein (intravenously) and are usually well-tolerated.


Final words

A healthy lifestyle is the key to reducing the odds of kidney cancer. Not smoking, consuming a nutritious diet and better managing your blood pressure, diabetes and weight are some of the ways by which you can do so.

At Neotia, we make every effort to cultivate a personalized and inclusive treatment plan to better treat cancer and improve the quality of life.

Our state-of-the-art infrastructure offers supreme diagnosis and treatment services for a wide spectrum of kidney-related concerns.

In addition, our team of expert urologists and advanced-trained surgeons ensures the best treatment possible.



Though all attempts are made to provide correct information on the subject, inadvertent & typographical errors arising out of manual intervention cannot be ruled out. It is requested to bring any such discrepancies to the notice of the blogger for correction.