Kidney cancer affects nearly 65,000 people in the United States every year. It often affects people over the age of 65, and is more common in men than women. The five-year survival rate for people with kidney cancer is 75%. While several factors may influence a person’s survival rate, kidney cancer is often treatable if found early.
What is Kidney Cancer?
The kidneys are a pair of organs that are attached to the upper back wall of the abdomen. Each kidney is about the size of a large fist. They are shaped like beans, and their main job is to filter waste products from the blood. The waste products and excess water removed by the kidneys become urine. Cancer occurs when the cells in the kidney begin to grow out of control. If not caught early, the cancerous cells may spread to other parts of the body.
There are different types of kidney cancer:
Renal Cell Carcinoma
The kidneys are made up of many tiny tubes called tubules. Renal Cell Carcinoma occurs when cells in the lining of these tubules begin growing uncontrollably. This is the most common type of kidney cancer and accounts for 85% of diagnosed cases. Renal Cell Carcinoma is a fast-growing cancer and is known to spread to other organs.
Urothelial Carcinoma is also known as transitional cell carcinoma. This type of cancer starts in urothelial cells, and makes up around 10-15% of diagnosed kidney cancers. Urothelial cells are found in the part of the kidney where urine collects before traveling to the bladder for storage.
Sarcoma develops in the soft (connective) tissues of the kidney and usually grows more quickly than other types of kidney cancer. This type of kidney cancer is rare and is often treated with surgery before it can spread to other parts of the body.