Kidney Cancer

Diagram described below

Anatomy of the male urinary system (left panel) and female urinary system (right panel); two-panel drawing showing the right and left kidneys, the ureters, the bladder filled with urine, and the urethra. The inside of the left kidney shows the renal pelvis. An inset shows the renal tubules and urine. Also shown are the prostate and penis (left panel) and the uterus (right panel).

© 2010 Terese Winslow LLC, U.S. Govt. has certain rights. Used with Permission. Contact artist at www.teresewinslow.comexternal icon for licensing.

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the kidney, it is called kidney and renal pelvis cancer. It can also be called renal cell cancer as that is the most common type of kidney and renal pelvis cancer. Every year, more than 41,000 men and 24,000 women get kidney and renal pelvis cancers, and about 9,000 men and 5,000 women die from these diseases.

To lower your risk of kidney and renal pelvis cancers, don’t smoke, or quit if you do. Be very careful if you work with the chemical trichloroethylene.

What Are the Kidneys?

The body has two kidneys, one on each side of the body, located behind the liver and stomach. The kidneys make urine, which is how the body washes liquid waste out of the body. The kidneys also play a role in controlling blood pressure and stimulating the bone marrow to make red blood cells.

What Is the Renal Pelvis?

The renal pelvis is in the center of the kidney and is responsible for collecting the urine and feeding it into the ureters, two tubes that connect the kidneys with the bladder. The bladder holds urine until it is peed out.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancers?

A person with kidney or renal pelvis cancer may or may not have one or more of the symptoms listed here. The same symptoms can also come from other causes. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

  • Blood in the urine.
  • A lump or swelling in the kidney area or abdomen.
  • Lower back pain or pain in the side that doesn’t go away.
  • Feeling tired often.
  • Fever that keeps coming back.
  • Not feeling like eating.
  • Losing weight for no reason that you know of.
  • Something blocking your bowels.
  • A general feeling of poor health.

What Causes Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancers?

Smoking is the most important risk factor for kidney and renal pelvis cancers. Other risk factors include—

  • Having high blood pressure. It is not known whether the increased risk is due to high blood pressure itself or the medicines used to treat it.
  • Being overweight or having obesity.
  • Taking certain pain medicines for a long time.
  • Having certain genetic conditions.
  • Having a long-lasting infection with Hepatitis C.
  • Having kidney stones.
  • Having sickle cell trait, which is asociated with a very rare form of kidney cancer (renal medullary carcinoma).
  • Being exposed to a chemical called trichloroethylene, which is used to remove grease from metal.

How Can I Reduce My Risk for Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancers?

To lower your risk of kidney and renal pelvis cancers—

  • Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise.
  • Be very careful if you use certain kinds of chemicals, especially trichloroethylene. This chemical is used by workers in some jobs, like those that work with metals.

Statistics

The Data Visualizations tool makes it easy for anyone to explore and use the latest official federal government cancer data from United States Cancer Statistics. It includes the latest cancer data covering the U.S. population.

Map of the United States.
See rates or numbers of new kidney and renal pelvis cancers or kidney and renal pelvis cancer deaths for the entire United States and individual states. Also, see the top 10 cancers for men and women.
Bar chart of demographics.
See rates or numbers of new kidney and renal pelvis cancers or kidney and renal pelvis cancer deaths by race/ethnicity, sex, and age group.
Line chart of trends.
See how the rates of new kidney and renal pelvis cancers or kidney and renal pelvis cancer deaths changed over time for the entire United States and individual states.
More Information
Page last reviewed: October 7, 2020