Renal cell carcinoma (RCC)

3 min read

What is RCC?

What is RCC?

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), or renal cell cancer, is the most common type of kidney cancer. The kidneys’ job is to produce urine by filtering water and waste products from the blood. Inside of each kidney, there are small tubes called tubules that collect the waste products. Renal cell cancer develops when a tumour forms in the cells that line these tubules.

There are different types of renal cell cancer which are named according to the types of cells in which the cancer is found, such as:

  • Clear cell RCC
  • Papillary RCC
  • Chromophobe RCC
  • Unclassified RCC

Renal cell cancer may be described in “stages” by your doctor. Typically, it is classified in 4 stages. The higher the stage number, the larger the tumour and the more the cancer has spread.

What causes RCC?

What causes RCC?

There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing renal cell cancer, including:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain medications

What are the most common symptoms of RCC?

What are the most common symptoms of RCC?

In the early stages of kidney cancer, you may not experience any signs or symptoms of the disease. Kidney cancer is usually diagnosed following an ultrasound or x-ray done for symptoms experienced in other organs. However, as it progresses, it may cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the back or side of the stomach
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • A large, swollen vein in the scrotum (in men)

How common is kidney cancer?

In 2019, it is estimated that 7,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is more common in men, who represent approximately 65% of all new diagnosis.

If you would like more information about renal cell cancer, speak with your doctor.