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Your Health / Conditions / Cancer / Kidney Cancer: The Facts

Published on Mar 7, 2022
Medically reviewed by Pfizer Oncology Team


Kidney Cancer - Overview

​​​​​​​Kidney cancer is also known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and usually affects one kidney. When the cancer cells spread (called “metastasis”) it can then involve the lungs, bone, brain and in rare cases, the other kidney. Not all kidney cancers are the same, and many different subtypes of kidney cancer have been identified; clear cell RCC, papillary RCC and chromophobe RCC are some examples of these subtypes.​​​​​

Around the world, the rate of people developing kidney cancer has been rising. This could be due to a few things, including lifestyle risk factors and diagnostic imaging. In Australia, kidney cancer was the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2019.

Although kidney cancer affects both men and women, it is more common in males and the risk of developing kidney cancer increases with age. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure have also been shown to increase the risk of kidney cancer. Kidney cancer can run in families, but inherited kidney cancers are rare.
Early kidney cancer is not usually associated with symptoms, and only 3 in 10 people are diagnosed based on these symptoms.
​​​​​​​These include:

  • ​​​​​​Pain around your abdomen or back and sides
  • Blood in the urine
  • Constant tiredness
  • ​​​​​​​Unexplained weight loss
  • ​​​​​​​Unexplained fever

Most people are diagnosed by accident while undergoing routine scans for other medical conditions. However, if you do notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis.

You can also speak to your pharmacist about taking your medications properly. One of the challenges in managing AF and other health conditions is that some patients do not take their medication at all or they do not take them appropriately. Your pharmacist can help you manage AF in several ways—he or she can:

As with many other forms of cancer, the earlier kidney cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome may be. Fortunately, survival rates for kidney cancer are improving. Many new treatment options have been discovered during the past decade and less invasive surgical methods make hospital stays shorter and help improve outcomes.

How will RCC affect my life?

Peter and Jacqueline have shared their experiences since being diagnosed with kidney cancer. Click below to learn more about how cancer has affected them and their families

What can I do now?

A cancer diagnosis can feel like the world is collapsing around you. There are many things to think about and manage. Please read our 7 practical tips after a cancer diagnosis next.

For additional information and support, scroll down to our External Resources section.


  1. Capitanio U, Montorsi F. Renal Cancer. Lancet 2016; 387: 894–906.
  2. Scelo G, Larose T. Epidemiology and risk factors for kidney cancer. J Clin Oncol 36:3574-3581

Last reviewed 07/2021

​​​​​​​External Resources

-Cancer Council Australia: Kidney Cancer
-Kidney Health Australia: Kidney Cancer Support
-Rare Cancers Australia: Patient Support
-Cancer Society New Zealand
-Cancer Society New Zealand: Cancer Chat

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