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Renal Cell Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma)

The most common type of kidney cancer. It begins in the lining of the renal tubules in the kidney. The renal tubules filter the blood and produce urine.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Renal Cell Cancer

Renal cell cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in tubules of the kidney.

Renal cell cancer (also called kidney cancer or renal adenocarcinoma) is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the lining of tubules (very small tubes) in the kidney. There are 2 kidneys, one on each side of the backbone, above the waist. The tiny tubules in the kidneys filter and clean the blood, taking out waste products and making urine. The urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through a long tube called a ureter. The bladder stores the urine until it is passed from the body.

Cancer that starts in the ureters or the renal pelvis (the part of the kidney that collects urine and drains it to the ureters) is different from renal cell cancer. (See the PDQ summary about Transitional Cell Cancer of the Renal Pelvis and Ureter Treatment for more information)... Read more about Renal Cell Cancer

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

CT differentiation of renal angiomyolipoma with minimal fat and renal cell carcinoma: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Zhou H Y, Hu Y J, Liu R B, Shang L, Yin W J.  CT differentiation of renal angiomyolipoma with minimal fat and renal cell carcinoma: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2009; 9(6): 640-645

Bevacizumab, sorafenib tosylate, sunitinib and temsirolimus for renal cell carcinoma: a systematic review and economic evaluation

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a highly vascular type of kidney cancer arising in the epithelial elements of the nephrons. The most common histological subtype of RCC is clear cell carcinoma (approximately 75% of cases). RCC is often asymptomatic until it reaches a late stage. In England and Wales, kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in men and the fourteenth most common in women. Of those diagnosed with RCC in England and Wales, about 44% live for at least 5 years after initial diagnosis and about 40% for at least 10 years. However, prognosis following diagnosis of metastatic disease is poor, and only about 10% of people diagnosed with stage IV RCC live for at least 5 years after diagnosis.

Meta-analysis of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents therapy for advanced renal cell carcinoma

Bibliographic details: Zhuang QY, Liu F Chen XG, Peng EJ, Li YY, Qi Y, Du LH .  Meta-analysis of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents therapy for advanced renal cell carcinoma. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2010; 10(6): 688-692

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Summaries for consumers

Tivozanib (Fotivda) for the treatment of advanced renal cell cancer: Overview

Tivozanib (trade name: Fotivda) has been approved in Germany since August 2017 for the treatment of advanced renal cell cancer in adults.

Axitinib (Inlyta) for renal cell cancer: Overview

The drug axitinib (trade name: Inlyta) has been approved in Germany since September 2012 for patients with advanced renal cell cancer who have already had unsuccessful treatment with a cytokine or the drug sunitinib.

Cabozantinib (Cabometyx) for the treatment of advanced renal cell cancer: Overview

The drug cabozantinib (trade name: Cabometyx) has been approved in Germany since September 2016 for the treatment of advanced renal cell cancer.

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Terms to know

Adenocarcinoma
Cancer that begins in glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells are found in tissue that lines certain internal organs and makes and releases substances in the body, such as mucus, digestive juices, or other fluids. Most cancers of the breast, pancreas, lung, prostate, and colon are adenocarcinomas.
Carcinoma
Carcinoma is a cancer found in body tissues that cover or line surfaces of organs, glands, or body structures.
Kidney
One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood (as urine) and help keep chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells.
Nephrons
A tiny part of the kidneys. Each kidney is made up of about 1 million nephrons, which are the working units of the kidneys, removing wastes and extra fluids from the blood.
Renal Pelvis
The area at the center of the kidney. Urine collects here and is funneled into the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder.
Renal Tubules
The last part of a long, twisting tube that collects urine from the nephrons (cellular structures in the kidney that filter blood and form urine) and moves it into the renal pelvis and ureters. Also called collecting duct.
Ureter
The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.

More about Renal Cell Cancer

Photo of an adult

Also called: Grawitz tumour, Grawitz tumor, Hypernephroma, Renal cell adenocarcinoma, RCC

Other terms to know: See all 7
Adenocarcinoma, Carcinoma, Kidney

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