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Sarcomatoid renal (kidney) cancer

 

What sarcomatoid renal cancer is

Sarcomatoid renal cell cancer is a rare type of kidney (renal) cancer. Different studies give different results but from 1 to 15 out of 100 (1 to 15%) kidney cancers are sarcomatoid renal cancers.

Most kidney cancers start in cells called clear cells, but they can start in other cells too. It seems that any type of renal cell cancer can become sarcomatoid. This means that the cells of the cancer look like the cells of a sarcoma. So they are called sarcomatoid.

Sarcomas are cancers of the supportive tissue in our bodies. Supportive tissue includes

  • Bones
  • Muscle
  • Fat
  • Fibrous tissue
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels

Sarcomatoid tumours are generally made up of other cell types too. These are usually clear cells and cells called chromophobe cells. Some doctors think that some kidney cancers turn into sarcomatoid tumours as the disease develops.

Sarcomatoid renal tumours tend to grow more quickly than other types of kidney cancers and are more likely to spread to other parts of the body. This makes them more difficult to treat.

 

Symptoms and diagnosis of sarcomatoid renal cancer

Symptoms of sarcomatoid kidney cancer are the same as the symptoms of kidney cancer. The most common symptoms are blood in your urine and pain in your side.

The tests you will have will be the same too. You can find out more in the tests for kidney cancer section.

 

Treatment for sarcomatoid renal cancer

If your cancer is contained within the kidney your main treatment will be surgery

If your doctor feels there is a high risk of the cancer coming back they will recommend further treatment with chemotherapy or biological therapy.

You can find information about chemotherapy for kidney cancer and biological therapy for kidney cancer in this section. Chemotherapy does not work well for sarcomatoid kidney cancer and is not often used. But it can help to control the cancer and stop it growing or shrink it for a while for some people.

Doctors tend to use similar chemotherapy drugs to those they use to treat other types of sarcoma. This is often a combination of different chemotherapy drugs, including the drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin). Other drugs you might have are ifosfamide, dacarbazine and more recently gemcitabine.

Doctors are still trying to find out more about the best way to use chemotherapy drugs for sarcomatoid renal cell cancer. They are also trying to find out which patients are likely to benefit most from chemotherapy treatment.

 

Coping with cancer

Coping with a rare condition can be difficult, both practically and emotionally. Being well informed about your condition and its treatment can help you to make decisions and cope with what happens.

The coping section has lots of information about coping emotionally, practically and physically.

It can also help to talk to other people who have the same thing. But it can be hard to find people who have had a rare type of cancer. Check out Cancer Chat – Cancer Research UK's discussion forum. It is a place for anyone affected by cancer to share experiences, stories and information with other people who know what you are going through.

You may also find it helpful to contact the Rare Cancer Alliance or the Rarer Cancers Foundation. They offer support and information to people who have rare cancers.

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Updated: 5 September 2014