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Each year, over 9,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer. It affects more men than women.
Kidney cancer is more common in people over 60 and rarely affects people under 40. Usually only one kidney is affected, and it’s rare for cancer to affect the other kidney.
Wilms’ tumour| (or nephroblastoma) is an uncommon type of kidney cancer that can affect very young children. We have more information for parents about children’s cancers|, which you may find helpful.
Cancer of the kidney isn’t infectious and can’t be passed on to other people.
There are different types of kidney cancer. About 90% of kidney cancers (9 out of 10) are renal cell cancers (RCC), sometimes called renal adenocarcinoma. They start in the cells that line very small tubes, called tubules, in the kidney cortex.
There are different types of renal cell cancer. The most common type is clear cell renal cancer. Less common types are papillary, chromophobe and collecting duct renal cancer.
Another type of cancer that can affect the kidneys starts in the cells that line the renal pelvis, where the kidney joins with the ureter. These cancers, sometimes called transitional cell cancers, behave and are treated differently to renal cell cancer. There's more information about this type of cancer in our section on cancer of the ureter and renal pelvis|.
This section is about renal cell cancer, which we call kidney cancer. You can talk to our cancer support specialists| to find out more about the rarer types of kidney cancer.
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2013
Next planned review: 2015
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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