Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in the United States.

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk for an American man getting kidney cancer is 2.02%, about double the risk for women.

The average age for being diagnosed with kidney cancer is 64. It is rarely found in people under 45 years old.

Types of Kidney Cancer

There are many types and sub-types of kidney cancer.

Survival rates are calculated for each cancer according to data available for people who experience the same type or sub-type.

The overall five-year relative survival rate – that is, the ratio of people who survive at least five years after first being diagnosed – is 75% for kidney cancer in general.

The rates for specific types may be much higher or much lower.

Risk Factors

Risk factors can be hereditary or acquired. It’s possible to minimize acquired risk by adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding certain behaviors, such as smoking.

But kidney cancer is found in non-smokers who eat the “right” foods, while some smokers and obese people might never get the disease.


Kidney cancer shares symptoms with other medical problems.

Just because you experience one of these symptoms or signs does not mean you have kidney cancer. But you should see your primary care provider if you experience one or more of these:

  • Anemia
  • Appetite loss
  • Blood in urine
  • Fatigue
  • Lower-back pain on one side, not related to an injury
  • Lump on the lower back
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unexplained weight loss


If you are at low to average risk for kidney cancer and have no symptoms, screening is not recommended.

If you have a higher risk due to hereditary factors such as von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome, your provider may recommend certain tests.


Kidney cancer can be diagnosed through various tests. These include angiography, blood test, urinalysis, bone scan, CT, MRI, ultrasound and X-ray.

A kidney biopsy might be ordered, but some kidney cancers can be confirmed without a biopsy.


Once diagnosed, you will meet with our OSF HealthCare multidisciplinary team, including specialists in medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgery. You will discuss options with them to determine the treatment best suited for you.

Our team will help you develop a survivorship plan and work with you through necessary follow-up and rehabilitation so that you can focus on recovery.

OSF HealthCare offers a full range of treatment options, including traditional surgery, minimally invasive procedures and non-surgical therapies.

Among these options are:

Your treatment plan will depend on your specific type of cancer and which options work best for you.

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