Kidney cancer, also called renal cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in Australia. It usually affects adults in their 60s or 70s and is uncommon in people under 50. It can often be cured if it is detected early. It is more common in men.
There are several types of kidney cancer. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, accounting for about 90% of all cases. Usually only one kidney is affected, but in rare cases the cancer may develop in both kidneys.
- Blood in the urine (haematuria)
- Pain or a dull ache in the side or lower back that is not due to an injury
- A lump in the abdomen
- Constant tiredness
- Rapid or unexplained weight loss
- Fever not caused by a cold or flu
The most common tests to exclude or diagnose kidney cancer are urine test, blood tests, CT or MRI scan and occasionally a biopsy.
Treatment of kidney cancer can depend on the stage reached. Options include:
- Surgery – Radical or partial Nephrectomy (laparoscopic and robotic) to remove the entire (or part of) affected kidney. This is the main treatment for most people
- Ablation therapies – where the cancerous cells are destroyed by freezing or heating them
- Embolisation – where blood supply to the cancer is cut off
- Biological therapies – medications that help stop the cancer from growing or spreading
- Radiotherapy where high-energy radiation is used to target cancer cells and relieve symptoms