About kidney cancer

Each year, over 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer. It’s more common in men than in women. Usually cancer only affects one kidney. It’s rare for cancer to be in both kidneys.

There are different types of kidney cancer. About 90% of kidney cancers (9 out of 10) are renal cell cancers (RCC). They start in the cortex of the kidney. There are different types of RCC. The most common type is clear cell renal cancer. Less common types are papillary renal cell cancer, chromophobe renal cell cancer and collecting duct renal cell cancer.

There is another type of cancer that can affect the kidneys. This is called cancer of the ureter and renal pelvis or transitional cell cancer. Doctors treat it in a different way to renal cell cancer.

Rarely, very young children and adults develop a type of kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumour (or nephroblastoma). The children’s cancer and leukaemia group (CCLG) have an information sheet about Wilms’ tumour.

Back to Understanding kidney cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

The kidneys

Most people have two kidneys. They filter the blood and remove waste products.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.