Understanding renal cell carcinoma

May 3, 2022

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What is renal cell carcinoma?

Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the cells of the kidney.1 Around 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In the early stages of RCC the tumour is in the kidney only but as the cancer grows it can spread to other parts of the kidney and other parts of the body like the lungs or bones.1


people in Australia were diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2021.*

Men accounted for

of cases.*

Projected to be the

most diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2021.*

* AIHW, Cancer Data Australia 2021 https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/cancer-summary-data-visualisation Accessed April 2022. Cancer in Australia 2021. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-in-australia-2021/summary

Who is at risk?

Some of the risk factors for kidney cancer include:1

  • Age (60+)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Family history
  • Inherited conditions
  • Exposure to toxic substances at work

Early detection & treatment

Most people with RCC do not have obvious symptoms and their cancer is discovered incidentally on imaging. This means that RCC is sometimes not found until the cancer is advanced. 2,3

Despite improvements in RCC diagnosis and treatment over the past two decades, it remains a serious urological malignancy. 4

If the cancer spreads or returns?

In the past five years, treatments for advanced RCC have evolved, including combination therapies, providing more options for patients.5,6

If you or a loved one are concerned about kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma, it is important you talk to your doctor or healthcare team.

You can visit Cancer Australia for more information on the above statistics.

  1. Cancer Council Australia: Understanding Kidney Cancer Booklet, https://www.cancer.org.au/assets/pdf/understanding-kidney-cancer-booklet Accessed April 2022
  2. Padala S. A et al 2020, World J Oncol., ‘Epidemiology of Renal Cell Carcinoma’, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 79-87, DOI: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1279.
  3. Atkins MD. Patient education: Renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/renal-cell-carcinoma-kidney-cancer-beyond-the-basics Accessed April 2022
  4. Capitanio, Umberto et al. “Epidemiology of Renal Cell Carcinoma.” European urology vol. 75,1 (2019): 74-84. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2018.08.036
  5. Ged, Y. et al 2020, Nature Reviews Urology, ‘Advanced renal cell carcinoma and COVID-19 — a personal perspective’, vol. 17, pp. 425-427, DOI: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1279.
  6. Schmidt, A. 2019, Asia-Pac J Clin Oncol, ‘Treatment selection for first-line metastatic renal cell carcinoma in Australia: Impact of new therapy options’, vo. 15, suppl. 10, DOI:10.1111/ajco.13289.