Dr. P. K. Das

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Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi, Delhi 110076

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Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals

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Kidney cancer is among the ten most common cancers in men & women worldwide. The overall lifetime risk of men developing kidney cancer is 1 in 46 (2.02%), and the overall lifetime risk of women developing kidney cancer is 1 in 80 (1.03%). It accounts for 3% of all registered cases of cancer in India. The disease occurs after 50 years of age, and the male to female ratio is 3:1. If you suspect kidney cancer, your best bet will be to consult the best oncology doctor in town. 

Kidney cancer or renal cancer diagnosis is not the end of the world. It is, however, the beginning of a journey towards better health. The only way to beat kidney cancer successfully is to consult the best oncology doctor in Delhi.

What is kidney cancer?

Before deciphering kidney cancer, let’s talk about the kidneys first. Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen.  Each of them is the size of fists.


Kidneys are a part of the body’s urinary system. They work by filtering liquid waste from the blood and eventually getting rid of it in the form of urine. 


Kidney cancer starts in the kidney, and it occurs when healthy cells in a single or both kidneys grow out of control, forming a lump or tumor.

How many types of kidney cancer are there?

There are multiple types of kidney cancer; here are a few:

Renal cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Being one of the most common adult kidney cancers, renal cell carcinoma makes up about 85% of all diagnoses. This cancer develops in the proximal renal tubules making up the kidney’s filtration system. In each kidney, there are thousands of these tiny filtration units. There are multiple treatment options for RCC, according to cancer doctors in Delhi, India, and worldwide.

Urothelial Carcinoma

Urothelial carcinoma, also called transitional cell carcinoma, accounts for 5-10% of the kidney cancers diagnosed in adults. Urothelial carcinoma begins in the area of the kidney where urine collects before moving to the bladder, called the renal pelvis. Cancer doctors treat this type of kidney cancer like bladder cancer. Why? Because both cancers begin in the same cells that line the renal pelvis and bladder.

Wilms tumor

Wilms tumor, otherwise called Wilms’ tumor or nephroblastoma, is a type of childhood kidney cancer. It is treated uniquely from kidney cancer in adults. It makes up about 1% of all kidney cancers. TThese tumors are most successfully treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy when combined with surgery.


Renal lymphoma can occur in both kidneys and is often a part of multi-systemic lymphoma. It is associated with enlarged lymph nodes or lymphadenopathy in other parts of the body, including the neck, chest, and abdominal cavity. In some cases, however rarely, kidney lymphoma can occur as a lone tumor mass in the kidney & may include regional lymph nodes.

Types of kidney cancer cells

The cells involved in a kidney tumor helps doctors decide how to plan the cancer treatment. There are 30 types of kidney cancer cells. Here are the most common types according to the best cancer specialists doctor in Delhi & worldwide:

Clear Cell 1

70% of kidney cancers are made up of clear cells. The clear cells range from slow-growing (grade 1) to fast-growing (grade 4). Targeted therapy and immunotherapy in cancer patients with clear cell kidney cancers are the most effective treatments.

Papillary 2

10-15% of kidney cancer patients suffer from papillary kidney cancer. It has two subtypes; type 1 and type 2. If it is localized papillary kidney cancer, then it can be treated with surgery. But if cancer has spread or metastasized, then it is treated with blood vessel blocking agents. The use of immunotherapy is still being studied.

Medullary 3

Despite being a rare and highly aggressive type of cancer, it is still considered a renal cortical tumor. It is associated (highly) with having sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait. A combination of chemotherapy with blood vessel inhibitors is currently recommended for it.

Collecting duct 4

Collecting duct carcinoma mostly occurs in people between the ages of 20 & 30. It starts in the collecting ducts of the kidney (any of the two). It is closely related to transitional cell carcinoma. Collecting duct carcinoma is a difficult type of cancer to treat successfully long-term, even with combinations of systemic chemotherapy and surgery.

Chromophobe 5

Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma or CRCC is a rare type of kidney cancer. It forms in the cells lining the inner tubules of the kidney. In it, indolent/inactive tumors are formed, and they are unlikely to spread. However, they become aggressive if they do spread.

Oncocytoma 6

Oncocytoma is a slow-growing type of kidney cancer that rarely spreads. An oncocytoma tumor is made up of oncocytes-epithelial cells distinguished by excessive mitochondria, resulting in abundant acidophilic, granular cytoplasm. As mentioned, this type of cancer is rare, and the tumor is mostly benign.

Kidney Cancer FAQs

Unfortunately, kidney cancer rarely causes symptoms until the tumor has already grown. However, the most common symptom of kidney cancer is blood in the urine, also called hematuria. If it is not visible to the naked eye, a urine test can find it under the microscope.

While blood in the urine is the most common symptom of kidney cancer, the following are the other symptoms a kidney cancer patient can face, ask any cancer doctor in Delhi, India, and abroad. 

  • Low back pain or persistent pressure on one side
  • Mass or lump on the side or lower back
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Testicle swelling in men (caused by enlarged veins near the testicle)
  • Unexplained fevers that come and go
  • Swelling of legs or ankles
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common risk factors for kidney cancer. It mainly increases the risk of developing renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The increase in risk, per researchers, seems to be related to how much an individual smokes. 

  • Obesity

People who are extremely overweight have a higher risk of developing RCC compared to others. Why? It is thought that obesity may cause changes in certain hormones that can lead to RCC.

  • High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is also one of the risk factors of high blood pressure. The risk may not be averted even if the individual takes the necessary medicines. 

  • Family history for Kidney Cancer

People with a strong family history of kidney cancer are at risk. Brothers and sisters of an individual with a kidney cancer diagnosis 

  • Workplace chemical exposure

According to multiple studies, workplace exposure to some substances, such as trichloroethylene, increases the risk for RCC.

  • Gender

RCC is twice as common in men as in women. Why? Because even today, men are more likely to smoke and are more likely to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals at work.

  • Race

African Americans have a slightly higher rate of RCC than do Caucasians. 

  • Certain medicines

Some studies have shown that certain medications like acetaminophen, a common pain medication, may be linked to increased RCC risk. 

  • Advanced kidney disease

People with advanced kidney disease, especially those under dialysis, are more at risk of kidney cancer. 

  • Genetic & hereditary risk factors

Some people are at a genetic disadvantage of getting kidney cancer.

The 5-year overall survival rate for people with kidney cancer is 75%. Nevertheless, survival rates depend on several factors like the type, cell type, and stage of cancer when it is first diagnosed. For localized kidney cancer, the rate is 93%; for regional, it is 70%; for distant, it is 13%.

Multiple procedures are used to diagnose kidney cancer. These are a few:

  • Blood and urine tests

Blood and urine tests may give your doctor clues about what’s causing your signs and symptoms.

  • Imaging tests

Imaging tests like ultrasound, X-ray, CT, or MRI allow doctors to visualize a kidney tumor or abnormality.

  • Removing a sample of kidney tissue (biopsy)

In certain circumstances, a doctor may recommend a procedure to remove a small sample of cells (biopsy) from a suspicious area of the kidney. The “sample” is then tested in a lab to look for signs of cancer. This procedure isn’t always used or needed.

Kidney cancer treatments: An in-depth look (H2)


  • Surgery

Surgery is the initial treatment for most types of kidney cancers. Surgery removes the cancer cells while preserving normal kidney function, if & when possible. Different types of surgeries are used, including radical nephrectomy (removing the entire affected kidney) and partial nephrectomy (removing the tumor from the kidney).

Post-surgery, for some people at a high risk of cancer returning, adjuvant therapy with drugs like sunitinib (Sutent), a targeted drug, is also used. If you want to know more about adjuvant therapy, you can always consult an expert like Dr. P.K.Das, a leading cancer specialist in Delhi NCR


  • Non-surgical techniques

If the tumor is small, then nonsurgical treatments like heat & cold are also used. These techniques might also be used if surgery is risky. 

If the tumor is small, then nonsurgical treatments like heat & cold are also used. These techniques might also be used if surgery is risky. The options include cryoablation, meaning treatment to freeze cancer cells, and radiofrequency ablation, meaning treatment to heat cancer cells.


  • Targeted therapy

Targeted drug treatments for kidney cancer focus on very specific abnormalities within the cancer cells. These treatments block these abnormalities and cause the cancer cells to die. 


  • Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy utilizes the body’s immune system to fight the cancer cells in the body. Immunotherapy is often used in combination with other therapies for kidney cancer. 


  • Radiation therapy

Using high-powered energy beams from different sources like X-rays & proton rays, radiation therapy kills cancer cells. It is often used to reduce symptoms of kidney cancer that has spread to other body parts, like bones & the brain. 

  • Clinical trials

Multiple innovative clinical trials are being studied worldwide for kidney cancer treatment. 

Kidney cancer is most commonly treated with surgery, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy in cancer patients. A combination of the three in any capacity might also be used. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be used sometimes.

Depending on the type of treatment, the side effects of kidney cancer treatment are:

  • fatigue
  • skin problems
  • diarrhea
  • low blood pressure
  • fluid buildup in the lungs
  • intestinal bleeding
  • heart attack
  • mouth sores
  • hair loss
  • bruising & bleeding
  • skin issues
  • internal organ damage
  • incisional hernias
  • kidney failure
  • pain 
  • infection

Kidney cancer should not be feared. It should be treated. If you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer and require the best treatment, care, & support available, you can consult Dr. P.K. Das, a top kidney cancer specialist in Delhi.

Not every type of kidney cancer is aggressive. Some are slow-growing. However, collecting duct carcinoma and renal medullary carcinoma are aggressive types of kidney cancer, which doctors find challenging to treat.

When and if detected early, kidney cancer is curable in most cases.

Smokers are at a higher risk of kidney cancer, and it is one of the most common causes of the same.

According to a recent study, “the average growth rate of kidney tumors in the study was 2.13 cm/year”. However, the spread depends upon whether the cancer is fast or slow-growing.

Post stage 3, Kidney cancer spreads.

Surgery and if surgery is not possible, then radiation therapy or/and arterial embolization as palliative therapy. Clinical trial drugs or procedures may also be used.

Surgery and if surgery is not possible, then radiation therapy or/and arterial embolization as palliative therapy. Clinical trial drugs or procedures may also be used.

Surgery and if surgery is not possible, then radiation therapy or/and arterial embolization as palliative therapy. Clinical trial drugs or procedures may also be used. Other procedures like surgery for palliative care or other therapies may also be used.

Surgery is rarely a treatment option at this stage, but it can be used in special cases if the primary tumor is still removable. In other cases, systemic therapy using treatments like immunotherapy or targeted therapy is used.