Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer (renal cell cancer) is a cancer of the kidneys which occurs predominantly in old age. Only one kidney is usually affected. Children can suffer from a special form of kidney cancer which is known as nephroblastoma or Wilms tumour. The recovery rates for this special kidney cancer in childhood are excellent.

Kidney cancer makes up around 2% of all cancers. Around 950 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in Switzerland every year. Men have a higher risk of falling ill with kidney cell cancer than women. Smoking, excessive weight, fatty food, high blood pressure, chronic alcohol consumption or excessive use of painkillers as well as a familial predisposition are further known risk factors for kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer does not cause any symptoms for a long time. The cancer is therefore frequently discovered by accident. For example, if an ultrasound of the kidneys or the stomach is carried out for another reason. Blood in the urine can be an initial indication of kidney cancer and should therefore always be checked by a doctor. At a later stage, pain in the kidney area, fatigue and weight loss can occur.

Different examinations are carried out to diagnose renal cell cancer. They include blood tests and urine examinations as well as an ultrasound examination of the kidney. A computer tomography is often required to determined how far the tumour has spread. If there are suspected metastases (offshoots), further radiological examinations will be carried out.

The treatment of kidney cancer depends on the type of tumour and the stage of the disease. Smaller tumours can be locally removed while preserving the kidneys. If there are larger tumours, the entire kidney must usually be removed. You can find out more about the surgical treatment options in the renal surgery section.

If there are metastases or if it is not possible to remove the tumour completely, targeted drug therapy is used. In this way, the growth of the tumour can be slowed or stopped in many cases.

Nephroblastoma, which is a special type of cancer in small children, can be cured with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy in more than 90% of cases.