Kidney cancer strikes more than 36,000 Americans every year, and kills over 12,600 adults and children. About half of new cases diagnosed in adults are localized, or limited to the kidney itself. Another 25 percent have advanced kidney cancer at diagnosis, and 25 percent will have regional kidney cancer.
Ultimately, about half of kidney cancer patients will experience metastases (tumor spread). The risk of metastasis is directly related to the size of the primary tumor.
In the 1980s, up to 80 percent of people had advanced kidney cancer when diagnosed. Today, thanks to advanced detection methods, only about 40 percent of patients have advanced kidney cancer at diagnosis.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer. Types of RCC include clear cell, papillary, chromophobe and collecting duct carcinomas. Clear cell carcinoma accounts for 80 percent of all RCC cases, and most treatments are focused on this type.
Due to the location of the kidneys, people often don't experience any symptoms until the tumor has grown quite large. The most common symptom is blood in the urine (hematuria), but the presence of blood doesn't necessarily mean it is cancer.
Other kidney cancer symptoms may include:
A lump or mass in the kidney area
Rapid weight loss
Lingering dull ache or pain in the side, abdomen or lower back
Feeling fatigued or in poor health
Having one or more of the symptoms listed above does not necessarily mean you have kidney cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may indicate other health problems.