Renal Cell Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version

General Information About Renal Cell Cancer

Incidence and Mortality

Estimated new cases and deaths from renal cell (kidney and renal pelvis) cancer in the United States in 2018:[1]

  • New cases: 65,340.
  • Deaths: 14,970.

Follow-up and Survivorship

Renal cell cancer, also called renal adenocarcinoma, or hypernephroma, can often be cured if it is diagnosed and treated when still localized to the kidney and to the immediately surrounding tissue. The probability of cure is directly related to the stage or degree of tumor dissemination. Even when regional lymphatics or blood vessels are involved with tumor, a significant number of patients can achieve prolonged survival and probable cure.[2] When distant metastases are present, disease-free survival is poor; however, occasional selected patients will survive after surgical resection of all known tumor. Because a majority of patients are diagnosed when the tumor is still relatively localized and amenable to surgical removal, approximately 73% of all patients with renal cell cancer survive for 5 years.[3] Occasionally, patients with locally advanced or metastatic disease may exhibit indolent courses lasting several years. Late tumor recurrence many years after initial treatment also occasionally occurs.

Renal cell cancer is one of the few tumors in which well-documented cases of spontaneous tumor regression in the absence of therapy exist, but this occurs very rarely and may not lead to long-term survival.

Treatment Modalities

Surgical resection is the mainstay of treatment of this disease. Even in patients with disseminated tumor, locoregional forms of therapy may play an important role in palliating symptoms of the primary tumor or of ectopic hormone production. Systemic therapy has demonstrated only limited effectiveness.

Related Summaries

Other PDQ summaries containing information related to renal cell cancer include the following:

  1. American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2018. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2018. Available online. Last accessed August 3, 2018.
  2. Sene AP, Hunt L, McMahon RF, et al.: Renal carcinoma in patients undergoing nephrectomy: analysis of survival and prognostic factors. Br J Urol 70 (2): 125-34, 1992. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Thailand Cancer Help: SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer. Bethesda, MD: Thailand Cancer Help. Available online. Last accessed May 18, 2018.