Renal Cancer: Causes, Stages, Symptoms & Treatments

Renal cancer, also known as kidney cancer, is a serious health condition where cancer cells grow uncontrollably in the kidneys, the organs responsible for filtering waste from the blood and making urine. This type of cancer can have a significant impact on a person’s health. Kidney cancer is one of the ten most common cancers in the United States. Every year, about 79,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease. This makes it important for everyone to know how you can recognize the (early) warning signs.

renal cancer

Types & Causes of Renal Cancer

There are several different types of renal cancer, with each type starting in different cells of the kidney. The most common type is called renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which accounts for about 90% of all kidney cancers. RCC usually begins in the lining of the tiny tubes inside your kidneys. Another type, called transitional cell carcinoma, starts in the cells that line the renal pelvis, where urine goes before it moves to the bladder. There’s also a rare type known as Wilms tumor, which mostly affects children.

The exact causes of renal cancer aren’t fully understood, but several risk factors have been identified. These include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and having certain genetic conditions. Essentially, these factors may lead to changes in the DNA of the kidney cells, causing them to grow uncontrollably and form a tumor.

Stages & Survival Rate of Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, like other cancers, is classified into stages. These stages describe the size of the cancer and how far it has spread. Staging is crucial because it helps determine the best approach for treatment and gives an idea about the outlook for recovery. In this table, you’ll learn the different stages of renal cancer and their estimated survival rates. Survival rates are typically given as a percentage, indicating the proportion of people who survive the disease for a specified period (usually 5 years) after their diagnosis compared to the general population.

Stages & Survial Rates Table

Stage Substage Description 5-Year Survival Rate (%)
I IA Tumor is 4 cm or smaller, confined to the kidney. 90-95
I IB Tumor is larger than 4 cm but no larger than 7 cm, confined to the kidney. 90-95
II IIA Tumor is larger than 7 cm but still confined to the kidney. 80-85
II IIB Tumor is larger, and may be growing into major veins or perinephric tissues, but not beyond the Gerota’s fascia. 80-85
III IIIA Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, or the tumor has invaded the renal vein or its segments. 50-60
III IIIB Cancer has spread to nearby major veins or perinephric tissues but is still contained within the Gerota’s fascia. 50-60
III IIIC Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and either major veins or perinephric tissues. 40-50

How you can recognize symptoms and how this type of cancer is treated? You’ll read all about it on the next page.

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