Kidney Cancer


Kidney cancer is the 8th most common cancer in adults in UK, with over 10,000 people diagnosed each year. It is more common in patients above the age of 60 years and affects more men the women.



What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

Around half of the kidney cancer cases, particularly smaller cancers, do not usually cause symptoms and are diagnosed by chance when patients are having scans for unrelated conditions. Some possible symptoms include:


  • Blood in the urine (haematuria).

  • Constant loin pain or side pain below the ribcage.

  • Lump or swelling in the kidney area.

  • Unexplained symptoms of weight loss, tiredness, night sweats and ongoing high temperature.



What are the causes of kidney cancer?

The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown, but there are risk factors that can increase the chances of developing the condition. These include:


  • Obesity (overweight).

  • Smoking.

  • Having a relative with kidney cancer.

  • Having kidney condition requiring dialysis.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Certain inherited gene disorders.



What are the types of kidney cancer?

Many different types of cancer can affect the kidney:


  • Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC): the most common type accounting for over 80% of the cases.

  • Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC): develops in the lining of the kidney (renal pelvis).

  • Wilm's tumour (nephroblastoma): rare type of cancer that affects children.

Diagnosis of kidney cancer

After careful medical history taking and full physical examination, you will have a number of the following tests:


  • Urine and blood tests.

  • Flexible cystoscopy: if you have blood in the urine.

  • Ultrasound scan.

  • CT (Computerised Tomography) scan.

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan.

  • Percutaneous biopsy of the kidney mass may be required to confirm the diagnosis.



Stages of Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Stage of the cancer refers to the cancer size and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage of the cancer will help to determine the most appropriate treatment. The most commonly used staging system is the TNM system:


T: refers to the size of the Tumour.

N: refers to if the regional Lymph Nodes are involved.

M: refers to if the cancer has Metastasised (spread outside the kidney).


The T stages of kidney cancer:

  • T1 - the cancer is not more than 7cm and is inside the kidney:

    • T1a - no more than 4cm.

    • T1b - between 4 and 7cm.


  • T2 - the cancer is more than 7cm and inside the kidney:

    • T2a - between 7 and 10cm.

    • T2b - more than 10cm and inside the kidney.


  • T3 - the cancer has spread through the outer covering (capsule) of the kidney but not beyond the fibrous tissue (Gerota's facia) or though major veins close to the kidney:

    • T3a - cancer spread into the renal vein or into the fat around the kidney.

    • T3b - cancer spread into the inferior vena cava vein below the diaphragm.

    • T3c - cancer spread into the inferior vena cava vein above the diaphragm or into the wall of the vena cava.


  • T4 - cancer has spread outside the kidney beyond the fibrous tissue (Gerota's facia).


The N stages of kidney cancer:

  • N0 - no cancer cells in the lymph nodes.

  • N1 - cancer cells spread into 1 lymph node.

  • N2 - cancer cells spread into more than 1 lymph node.


The M stages of kidney cancer:

  • M0 - the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.

  • M1 - the cancer has spread into other body parts, commonly affecting lungs, bones, liver and brain.



Grades of RCC

Grade of kidney cancer refers to the appearance of the cancer cells under the microscope reflecting the behaviour of the cancer.


The commonly used grading system is the Fuhrman nuclear grading system which classifies the cancer cells into 4 grades (from the lowest grade1 to the highest grade 4). Generally, the lower the grade, the slower the growth of the cancer cells is and the less tendency for it to spread.



Treatment of RCC

There are many treatment options for kidney cancer depending on many factors including the staging of the cancer, the status of the other kidney and your general health. We will be able to discuss these options with you and help you to decide your best treatment choice. These treatments include:







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Private Secretary Contact

Debbie Coleman

KIMS Hospital

Newnham Court Way



ME14 5FT

Tel: 01622 538173