About kidney cancer

What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer starts when cells in the kidney grow in an uncontrolled way. The cells can grow into surrounding tissues or organs and may spread to other parts of the body. Kidney cancer is still called kidney cancer if it spreads to other parts of the body.

Kidney cancer is the 7th most common cancer in the UK. It is more common in men than women and is more common in older people.

Are there different types of kidney cancer?

The kidneys are made up of different types of cells. The type of cancer you have depends on the type of cell the cancer starts in. The commonest type of kidney cancer is renal cell cancer (RCC).

The main types of renal cell cancer (RCC) are:

  • Clear cell (approximately 75%)
  • Papillary (approximately 15%)
  • Chromophobe (approximately 5%)
What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

Most people who are diagnosed with kidney cancer do not have any symptoms. Many people have their kidney cancer picked up by chance when they are having tests for something else.

When someone does have symptoms, these may include:

  • blood in the urine
  • a lump or mass in the kidney area
  • pain in the back or flank
How is kidney cancer usually treated?

Treatment for kidney cancer will depend on whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

If the cancer has spread, then this can be treated with immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors and/or targeted drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Surgery to remove the kidney can also be an option in some cases.

More Information

For more information about kidney cancer, please visit the following useful links:

Cancer Research UK

Kidney Cancer UK

Action Kidney Cancer


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