KIDNEY CANCER SUPPORT & INFORMATION SERVICE
To present more extensive information on this subject, Kidney Health Australia has prepared a special website dedicated to this complex kidney condition, to better support those with kidney cancer, their families, carers and health professionals.
WHAT IS KIDNEY CANCER?
Download our Kidney Cancer Fact Sheet for printing
Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the kidney. Cancer is caused by the rapid abnormal overgrowth of cells within the kidney. Our bodies are always making new cells: so we can grow, to replace worn-out cells, or heal damaged cells after injury.
This process is controlled by certain genes and all cancers are caused by changes to these genes. Changes to our genes usually happen during our lifetime, although a small number of people inherit such a change from a parent.
As with all cancers, kidney cancers begin small and grow larger over time. Kidney cancers usually grow as a single mass but more than one tumour may occur in one or both kidneys. These lumps can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign lumps do not spread to other parts of the body.
When it first develops, a malignant tumour is confined to its original site. If cancer is treated in its early stages, the potential for cure of the cancer can be very good. If these cells are not treated, they may spread into surrounding tissue and to other parts of the body. When these cells reach a new site they may continue to grow and form another tumour at that site.
Incidence of Kidney Cancer
In Australia, kidney cancer is one of the ten most common cancer diagnoses. It is estimated that 3,000 people received a diagnosis of kidney cancer in 2012.
Between 1991 and 2009 the incidence of kidney cancer has increased by approximately 30%. The increase in diagnosed kidney cancer may be due to the ageing of the population, better diagnostic methods, or increased rate of coincidental diagnosis during scans for other reasons.
Kidney cancer is mostly a disease seen in adults aged over 55, and is rare in children.
Australians have a 1 in 69 risk of developing kidney cancer before the age of 85 (1 in 49 for males and 1 in 110 for females). Males are currently twice as likely to develop kidney cancer as females. Kidney cancer is mostly a disease seen in adults aged over 55, and is rare in children.
Worldwide, over 100,000 people die of kidney cancer each year. Kidney cancer caused 927 deaths in Australia in 2009 (575 men, 352 women), accounting for 2% of all cancer deaths, and for 0.6% of all causes deaths.
Survival from kidney cancer has increased greatly over time. The 5-year relative survival from 47% in the period 1982-1987 to 72% in 2006-2010. The 5-year survival rate is similar for males and females overall, although females aged 50–59 (5-year survival of 83%) had a slight survival advantage over males of the same age (76%).
Improved outcomes are due largely to increases in the detection and survival of early-stage renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer.
Different types of kidney cancer
Around 85% of kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas. These cancers begin to grow in the lining of one or both kidneys. Without treatment, this type of cancer can spread to other parts of your body.
Other (less common) types of kidney cancer include:
- Transitional cell carcinoma – starts in the join between the kidney and its ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney into the bladder)
- Renal sarcoma – a rare type of kidney cancer.
- Wilm’s tumour – a rare type of kidney cancer that affects children.
Kidney Cancer - Cancer Council NSW * Understanding Kidney Cancer - Cancer Council NSW - Booklet download & online version
Recommended: Understanding Cancer (kidney, bladder, prostate & more)
Call the Cancer Council of Australia Infoline at 131 100
Kidney Cancer Information Service
Supporting those with kidney cancer, their families, carers and health professionals
Should you have any specific questions about kidney cancer, email email@example.com
National Relay Service - www.relayservice.com.au - for those with hearing or speech impairment
Use this service to connect to our KHIS line - quote 1800 4 54363 as '9' is silent for this purpose
TTY/Voice 133 677 | Speak & Listen (SSR) 1300 555 727 I www.iprelay.com.au/call/index.aspx
SOURCES OF DATA
ACIM (Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality) Book (2010) AIHW Canberra
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries. Cancer in Australia: an overview 2012. Cancer series no. 74. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW
AIHW 2012. Cancer in Australia: in brief 2012. Cancer series no. 73. Cat. no. CAN 69. Canberra: AIHW.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982 to 2010. 2012. Cancer Series no. 69 Cat. no. CAN 65. Canberra: AIHW
Our website www.kidneycancer.org.au has been prepared by Kidney Health Australia with the assistance and support of Pfizer Oncology and Novartis Oncology via an unrestricted educational grant.
Updated 15 March 2013
Disclaimer: Information provided is intended as an introduction to this topic and not meant to substitute for your doctor's or health professional's advice. All care is taken to ensure this information is relevant and applicable to each Australian state. Kidney Health Australia recognises each person's experience is individual and variations do occur in treatment and management due to personal circumstances. Consult a healthcare professional for specific treatment recommendations.