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To present extensive information and education on this complex topic, Kidney Health Australia prepared a special site dedicated to this complex kidney condition, to better support those with kidney cancer, their families, carers and health professionals.

Kidney Cancer Information Service - 1800 454 363
. Note our sister site: kidneycancer.org.au

Topics on site about kidney cancer are:  
*Diagnosis     *Types     *Treatment     *Clinical Trials     *Statistics     *Support & Resources

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Facts Sheets: 

Kidney Cancer - Localised

Kidney Cancer - Advanced

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.
Cancer Council of Australia Infoline - 131 100.


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 aging 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.

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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.

Useful weblinks:  Kidney Cancer Cancer Council NSW * Understanding Kidney Cancer Online booklet for download

Recommended: Understanding Cancer Cancer Council (kidney, bladder, prostate & more) Cancer Voices Australia - advocacy

Kidney Cancer Information Service - 1800 454 363

Supporting those with kidney cancer, their families, carers and health professionals

For specific questions about kidney cancer email kidneycancer@kidney.org.au

National Relay Service - relayservice.com.au - for those with hearing or speech impairment  


OUR SUPPORTERS - Our site kidneycancer.org.au prepared by Kidney Health Australia, with support of Pfizer Oncology and Novartis Oncology via unrestricted educational grant.

Page updated 24 July 2015
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 occur in treatment and management due to personal circumstances. Consult a healthcare professional for specific treatment recommendations.

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  The material contained on this site does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for information purposes only. Published by Kidney Health Australia. Privacy Policy. For information about website content please contact the National Communications Manager.

© 2008 Kidney Health Australia

Last updated: Oct 2015.