Kidney Cancer

Cancer of the kidney (renal cell carcinoma) is uncommon relative to other cancers, but the 3rd most common cancer that a urologist deals with, after prostate and bladder. Kidney cancer is usually detected "by chance" on ultrasound or CT scan done for other reasons. Symptoms are often late, including pain or hematuria.

On the other hand, urologists are often asked to assess a kidney (renal) mass as to whether it could be cancerous or not. There are other renal lesions that can mimic cancer including cysts (particularly if they have "atypical" features), angiomyolipomas (benign hamartomatous lesions), and oncocytomas, to name a few, as well as other cancers including transitional cell cancer and metastatic cancer (cancer spread to the kidney from somewhere else). Your urologist may have to run further imaging tests to sort this out, or, sometimes, wait and follow a lesion to see if it changes in size or characteristics over time.

If your urologist is concerned that a mass in the kidney is likely a cancer, he will discuss with you various treatment options, including watchful waiting, radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, partial nephrectomy (removal of only the tumour and the part of the kidney around it) - either open or laparoscopic, or total ("radical") nephrectomy (again, either open or laparoscopic). Unfortunately, at the present there are no other curative forms of treatment for kidney cancer, such as radiation or chemotherapy.

General Information on Cancer

UNDERSTANDING CANCER - Metrovan Urology info on the principles of diagnosis, staging, prognosis and more.

American Cancer Society

BC Cancer Agency: Good general website from the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Has contact information on locations.

National Cancer Institute: Excellent source of understandable and mainly unbiased information. Several very good brochures on every stage of prostate cancer.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: peer-reviewed expert content/prostate cancer guidance on evidence-based cancer diagnosis and management. Best for Prostate and Kidney Cancer. The most in-depth information is located in the physician section and requires registration.

General Urology Websites

Canadian Urological Association  Extenstive library of downloadable pamphlets on a wide range of urological conditions

Cleveland Clinic

Mayo Clinic

Medline Plus Produced by the US National Institutes of Health with information on virtually every health topic and extensive list of links The patient information site of the American Urological Association.