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 and Delivery of High Quality Cancer Care in Essex"
NHS Essex Cancer Network

Kidney Cancer

About

Kidney cancer, also called renal cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK.

It usually affects adults in their 60s or 70s and is rare in people under 50.

It can often be cured if it's caught early. But a cure probably won't be possible if it's not diagnosed until after it has spread beyond the kidney.

There are several types of kidney cancer. These pages focus on the most common type – renal cell carcinoma. The Cancer Research UK website has more information about other types of kidney cancer.

This page covers:

Symptoms

When to get medical advice

Causes

Treatment

Outlook

Symptoms of kidney cancer

In many cases, there are no obvious symptoms at first and kidney cancer may only be picked up during tests carried out for another reason.

If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • blood in your pee – you may notice your pee is darker than normal or reddish in colour
  • a persistent pain in your lower back or side, just below your ribs
  • a lump or swelling in your side (although kidney cancer is often too small to feel)

Read more about the symptoms of kidney cancer.

When to get medical advice

See your GP if you have symptoms of kidney cancer.

Although it's unlikely you have cancer, it's important to get your symptoms checked out.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and may test a sample of your urine to see if it contains blood or an infection.

If necessary, they can refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests to find out what the problem is.

Read more about how kidney cancer is diagnosed.

Causes of kidney cancer

The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown, but some things can increase your chances of developing it:

These include:

Maintaining a healthy weight, a healthy blood pressure and not smoking is the best way to reduce your risk of kidney cancer.

Treatments for kidney cancer

The treatment for kidney cancer depends on the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

The main treatments are:

  • surgery to remove part or all of the affected kidney – this is the main treatment for most people
  • cryotherapy or radiofrequency ablation – where the cancerous cells are destroyed by freezing or heating
  • biological therapies – medications that help stop the cancer growing or spreading
  • embolisation – a procedure to cut off the blood supply to the cancer
  • radiotherapy – using high-energy radiation to target cancer cells and relieve symptoms

Read more about how kidney cancer is treated.

Outlook for kidney cancer

The outlook for kidney cancer largely depends on how big the tumour is and how far it has spread by the time it's diagnosed.

If the cancer is still small and hasn't spread beyond the kidney, surgery can often cure it. Some small, slow growing cancers may not need treatment at first.

A cure isn't usually possible if the cancer has spread, although treatment can sometimes help keep it under control. Some people become ill quickly, but others may live for several years and feel well despite their cancer.

Overall, around 7 in every 10 people live at least a year after diagnosis and around 5 in 10 live at least 10 years.

Cancer Research UK has more information about survival statistics for kidney cancer.


Further information on kidney cancer

Information Prescription Service

To access the Information Prescription Service and the national cancer information pathway for kidney cancer please click on the link below. Then click on 'Specialist information from our charity partners'

www.nhs.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support Website

www.macmillan.org.uk

Cancer Research UK Website

www.cancerresearchuk.org

Further Information

Visit or phone a local cancer information centre

There are several cancer information and support centres in Essex Cancer Network where anyone affected by cancer can be sure of a warm welcome and high quality, accurate, evidence-based information:

Basildon Hospital Macmillan Info and Support Centre, Outpatients Dept, Basildon Hospital, staffed Monday 2pm - Friday 12.30pm,tel: 0845 155 3111 extension 4908

Macmillan Info and Support Centre,Essex County Hospital, Outpatients Dept, Monday - Friday office hours, tel: 01206 747474

Information Resource Service, St Luke's House, Corringham,Thurrock, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01375 648170

Lantern Suite, Farleigh Hospice,Chelmsford, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01245 457418

Hospice Outreach Project Information Bus, Farleigh Hospice, covers the Chelmsford area. Contact Farleigh Hospice as above

For more information, please contact the service direct.

 

Visit your local library in Essex Cancer Network

Essex, Southend and Thurrock library services have worked in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Essex Cancer Network to establish collections of quality assured information books and pamphlets about cancer. These can be accessed at any library: just ask. Additionally some staff at libraries have been trained to help patients use the Information Prescription Service.

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support Helplines

If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm (interpretation service available) tel: 0808 808 0000

For financial queries tel: 0808 808 2232

 

Remember: Stay safe online when looking for support!

Internet chat rooms and message forums can be valuable sources of support and comfort, enabling you to meet others in the same position. However, there is potential for abuse - please read these guidelines before you set off to explore...

Click here to download the draft guidelines

 

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