Kidney Cancer

If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer, you can count on our team to become your team. We rally around you to provide compassionate care, unmatched expertise and advanced kidney cancer treatments that help you live life on your terms.

What Is Kidney Cancer?

The kidneys are organs located on each side of the body. They filter and clean the blood, taking out waste and creating urine.

Kidney cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow in the lining of the kidney. You may also hear it called renal cell cancer or renal adenocarcinoma.

Types of Kidney Cancer

At the Abramson Cancer Center, we diagnose and treat all types of kidney cancer. Types of kidney cancer include:

  • Renal cell carcinoma (RCC): Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer. It forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter blood and remove waste products.
  • Renal pelvis carcinoma: Renal pelvis carcinoma is cancer that forms in the center of the kidney where urine collects.
  • Renal sarcoma: Renal sarcoma is an extremely rare type of kidney cancer that begins in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidney.

Kidney Cancer Care: The Penn Medicine Advantage

At the Abramson Cancer Center, our genitourinary (GU) and urology cancer specialists are pioneers in kidney cancer treatment. They have a national reputation for outstanding patient care, excellent outcomes and innovative kidney treatments. That’s one reason why U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks us one of the best in the Philadelphia region for cancer care.

As a renowned leader in cancer research, we participate in genitourinary and urologic cancer clinical trial. These studies include ongoing trials that offer more treatment options to patients with metastatic kidney cancer.

Your care also includes:

  • Experienced kidney cancer experts: Our skilled kidney cancer specialists treat a high volume of patients each year. This experience gives our doctors the highest levels of skill and knowledge. Our special expertise leads to better outcomes for our patients.
  • Expertise in metastatic renal cancer: You receive care from doctors who pioneered some of the standard treatments for metastatic renal cancer (kidney cancer that has spread to other areas of the body). Their intimate knowledge of what works, what doesn’t and the latest care advances helps our patients live longer.
  • Skilled surgeons: Our kidney cancer surgeons have completed the highest level of surgical training (fellowship). They also have special expertise in all types of kidney cancer surgery and minimally invasive procedures. Read more about kidney cancer surgery.
  • Answers when you need them: Diagnosing kidney cancer early increases your odds for successful treatment. Our GU oncology nurse navigator helps you quickly schedule and prepare for appointments right from the start. And our highly trained advanced practice providers (APPs) use their kidney cancer expertise to follow up on your symptoms and get you needed tests. Their involvement in your care leads to a faster, accurate diagnosis.
  • Genetic specialists and counseling: Some kidney cancers are related to syndromes that run in families. Your care team includes experts in the genetics of kidney cancer. In our nationally recognized Translational Medicine and Human Genetics program, genetic specialists and counselors help you understand your cancer risks. They also help you make personalized care decisions informed by your DNA. Read about von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) and hereditary renal cell carcinoma.
  • Convenient care: From telemedicine appointments through Penn Connected Health to treatment locations where you live or work, we offer care that more easily fits into your life.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

Kidney cancer symptoms can be like symptoms of other kidney conditions. You should talk with a doctor if you experience these symptoms:

  • Anemia (low red blood cells)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lump in the abdomen (stomach)
  • Pain in one side of the lower back that does not go away
  • Weight loss for no reason

Signs that the cancer has spread to other parts of your body (metastasized) include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High levels of calcium in the blood
  • Liver problems
  • Night sweats

What Causes Kidney Cancer and Renal Cell Carcinoma?

People who develop kidney cancer are more likely than others to have certain risk factors for the disease. A risk factor is something that increases the chance of developing a disease.

There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney cancer, including:

  • Chronic or advanced kidney disease
  • Family history of kidney cancer
  • Having certain genetic conditions or diseases like von Hippel-Lindau disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Long-term exposure to cadmium, some herbicides and some organic solvents
  • Long-term overuse of certain pain medications, including over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

Having one or more of these factors does not mean you will develop kidney cancer. However, one of our kidney cancer experts can help you understand your personal risk.

Make an Appointment

Please call 800-789-7366 or request a callback.