Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer occurs in about 30,000 Americans each year and causes death in about 12,000. If caught and treated early, it is commonly curable. More than 100,000 in the US have survived kidney cancer. Unfortunately it appears that the number of people who have kidney cancer is increasing.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

The symptoms of kidney cancer are highly variable and include fever, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, weakness, loss of energy, night sweats, fatique, headache, weight loss etc. The "classic triad" of symptoms: hematuria (blood in the urine), flank pain and abdominal mass are very uncommon now. Currently kidney cancer is most frequently picked up on imaging studies (CAT scan, MRI, or ulrasound) done for "other reasons."

Causes and Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer

Smoking significantly increases the risk of kidney cancer (like lung cancer, of course, but also bladder cancer, colon cancer, and others). A family history of kidney cancer also increases the risk, and many associated genes have been identified. Polycystic kidneys, which is generally inherited, as well as renal failure and dialysis, which also can produce cystic kidneys, are associated with kidney cancer. As with prostate cancer and other cancers, diets high in red meat, especially fried meat increase risk for kidney cancer. Renal cysts, however, are common after age 60 and generally are completely benign.


Kidney cancer is relatively resistant to radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which leaves surgery as the best approach. Kidney cancer, like bladder cancer, is one of only a few cancers that are often best treated with immunotherapy, the specialty of BCG Oncology...more treatment information

Created: 3/15/2005