Several types of cancer can develop in the kidneys. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form, accounts for approximately 85 percent of all cases. In RCC, cancerous (malignant) cells develop in the lining of the kidney’s tubules and grow into a mass called a tumor. In most cases, a single tumor develops, although more than one tumor can develop within one or both kidneys.
Early diagnosis of kidney cancer is important. As with most types of cancer, the earlier the tumor is discovered, the better a patient’s chances for survival. Tumors discovered at an early stage often respond well to treatment. Survival rates in such cases are high. Tumors that have grown large or spread (metastasized) through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body are more difficult to treat and present an increased risk for mortality.
It’s not clear what causes most kidney cancers.
Doctors know that kidney cancer begins when some kidney cells develop changes in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The changes tell the cells to grow and divide rapidly. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can extend beyond the kidney. Some cells can break off and spread to distant parts of the body.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the highest incidence of kidney cancer occurs in the United States, Canada, Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The lowest incidence is found in Thailand, China, and the Philippines.
In the United States, kidney cancer accounts for approximately 3 percent of all adult cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, about 61,560 new cases are diagnosed and about 14,080 people die from the disease annually. Kidney cancer occurs most often in people between the ages of 50 and 70, and affects men almost twice as often as women.
Smokers develop renal cell carcinoma about twice as often as nonsmokers and develop cancer of the renal pelvis about 4 times as often. Not smoking is the most effective way to prevent kidney cancer and it is estimated that the elimination of smoking would reduce the rate of renal pelvis cancer by one-half and the rate of renal cell carcinoma by one-third.
Information provided by the Urology Channel. For more details about this disease please go to urologychannel.com.