What Is Renal Cell Carcinoma?


Quick Answer

Renal cell carcinoma is a type of cancer in the cells that line the tiny tubules of the kidneys, according to MedlinePlus. It is most common in men between the ages of 50 and 70, and it is the most common type of kidney cancer overall in adults.

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Full Answer

The exact cause of renal cancer is unknown, as of 2015, but a number of medical conditions increase the risk, MedlinePlus says. Kidney dialysis, polycystic kidney disease, smoking and high blood pressure all increase the chance of developing renal cancer. Genetic conditions such Von Hippel-Lindau disease, which affects the blood vessels, or a family history of renal cancer also increase the risk.

Symptoms of kidney cancer include pain in the side, back or abdomen, according to MedlinePlus. Other symptoms include swelling in the veins around the testicles, abdominal swelling, weight loss and blood in the urine. Less common symptoms include pale skin, vision problems and, in women, excessive hair growth. Upon presentation of these symptoms, doctors examine a patient for a mass in the abdomen or swelling of testicular veins. These checks are followed by blood tests, liver function tests, ultrasounds, computed tomography scans and urine tests. Treatment usually involves surgical removal of part of the kidney and hormone treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are generally ineffective.

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