Here are some facts about the numbers of people affected by this serious disease:
- In the U.S., kidney cancer is the seventh most common cancer in men. In women, it
is the eighth most common.
- In the U.S. in 2010, about 35,370 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed in men.
About 22,870 were diagnosed in women.
- Kidney cancer made up 3% to 4% of all new cancers diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010.
- Kidney cancer caused about 13,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2010.
- Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer. Over 90% of kidney cancers are of this type.
Despite surgery, in about 20% to 30% of patients, cancer will return. And of those diagnosed with RCC, about 11% already have
advanced (metastatic) disease at diagnosis.
So when you are diagnosed with RCC, you may need other treatment, not just surgery
to remove the tumor. TORISEL is approved to treat the portion of patients whose cancer is advanced.
More than half of all cases of RCC are found by chance. This happens when you get an
imaging test for a different health issue. You may not have any obvious signs or
symptoms of RCC.
Some common signs and symptoms of RCC include:
- Weight loss
- Blood in the urine
- Pain in the lower side of the torso
Men have a higher risk than women of developing RCC. Most people who are diagnosed are in their 60s or 70s.
Other risk factors are:
- High blood pressure
- Certain types of kidney disease
Staging overview and 5-year survival rates for kidney cancer
Tumor is 7 centimeters (about 3 inches) or smaller and found only in the kidney. 5-year survival:
Tumor is larger than 7 centimeters and found only in the kidney. 5-year survival: 82%
Tumors/cancerous tissue can be found in the kidney, an adrenal gland,
a nearby lymph node, the tissue around the kidney, or major blood vessels of the
kidneys. 5-year survival: 64%
Tumors/cancerous tissue can be found in other areas of the body outside
the fatty tissue surrounding the kidney, such as the intestines, lymph nodes, pancreas,
lungs, or other organs. 5-year survival: 23%
Adapted from Cohen et al.
© 2005, Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.
Putting tumor size into perspective
When thinking about tumor size, it may help to compare different measurements with everyday objects.
When RCC is found at an early-stage, it can be treated with surgery to remove the
tumor. Part or all of the kidney may also be removed.
The main treatment for early-stage RCC is surgery to remove the cancer from the
Types of surgery for RCC include:
- Nephrectomy (pronounced: nuh-FREK-tuh-mee) – kidney removal.
This type of surgery is done for early-stage RCC and some cases of advanced RCC.
- Partial nephrectomy – removing part of the kidney. This type
of surgery is done if the tumor is less than 4 centimeters (about 1.5 inches) in diameter. It might also be
done if you have only one kidney or if there are tumors in both kidneys. Another
reason would be if the kidneys are not working right.
- Laparoscopic nephrectomy – removing part or all of the kidney
with a method called laparoscopy. With this method, the surgeon does not have to
open the abdomen but makes small cuts to get the kidney out.
- Ablation – a technique to kill tumor cells using radio waves
or extreme cold. This is done on tumors that are less than 3 centimeters (about 1.2 inches) in diameter. It
is also done if a person cannot have major surgery.
Chemotherapy and radiation, used to treat other cancers, are not generally used
for treating RCC.
Other types of treatment for advanced RCC may include:
Immunotherapies – These help the immune system fight the cancer.
Molecular therapies – These are designed to block growth or spread of cancer cells.
Researchers are also looking at other treatments for RCC. These include vaccines,
stem-cell therapies, and others.
advanced (metastatic) disease: the cancer has spread beyond the organ
where it first started
imaging test: a test that takes pictures of the inside of the body,
such as a CT scan or an MRI
anemia: not enough red blood cells
5-year survival: what percentage of people with this stage of kidney cancer
survive 5 years or more
adrenal gland: an organ near the kidney that releases important chemicals
in the body
lymph node: part of the immune system that fights infections in the
early-stage: the cancer has not spread beyond the organ where it first
radiofrequency heat ablation: killing tumor cells with radio waves
cryoablation: killing tumors with extreme cold
immune system: fights infections and diseases in the body