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Types of kidney cancer

Men and women discussing kidney cancer

This page is about the different types of kidney cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Renal cell cancer

Renal cell cancer is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults. It is also known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC) or renal cell adenocarcinoma. You may occasionally hear it called hypernephroma.  

There are several different types of renal cell cancer. The most common is called clear cell renal cell carcinoma and 75% of all renal cell cancers are this type. 

The kidney cancer information in this section is mainly about renal cell cancers. In renal cell cancer the cancerous cells start in the lining of the kidney tubules (the smallest tubes inside the nephrons) that help to filter the blood and make urine.

Other types of kidney cancer

Another type of kidney cancer is called transitional cell cancer (TCC) of the renal pelvis. It is less common. About 7 or 8 out of every 100 (7 to 8 %) kidney cancers diagnosed in the UK are TCCs. The treatment for this type of kidney cancer is similar to the treatment for bladder cancer.

A type of kidney cancer called Wilms' tumour can affect children. This is different from kidney cancer in adults.

 

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Renal cell cancer

Renal cell cancer is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults. It is also called renal cell adenocarcinoma and occasionally hypernephroma. More than 8 in every 10 (80%) kidney cancers diagnosed in the UK are this type. This kidney cancer section is mainly about renal cell cancers. 

In renal cell cancer the cancerous cells start in the lining of the tubules (the smallest tubes inside the nephrons) that help filter the blood and make urine. 

There are several types of renal cell cancer. The main ones are

  • Clear cell - around 75 out of 100 renal cell cancers (75%) are this type
  • Papillary renal cell cancer - around 10 in 100 renal cell cancers (10%) are this type
  • Chromophobe renal cell cancer - around 5 in 100 renal cell cancers (5%) are this type

There are other cell types of renal cell cancer which are very rare, including carcinoma of the collecting ducts and renal medullary carcinoma. Sometimes kidney cancers can contain more than one cell type. If a kidney cancer is a sarcomatoid type it may have a worse outlook than non sarcomatous kidney cancers. 

We have more information about sarcomatoid renal cancer.

 

Other types of kidney cancer

Another type of kidney cancer is called transitional cell cancer (TCC) of the renal pelvis. The renal pelvis is the central area of the kidney where urine collects before it goes down the ureter to the bladder. Around 7 or 8 out of every 100 (7 to 8 %) kidney cancers diagnosed in the UK are TCCs. The treatment for this type of kidney cancer is similar to the treatment for bladder cancer.

A type of kidney cancer called Wilms' tumour can affect children. This is different from kidney cancer in adults. 

We have more information about transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis (TCC) and Wilm's tumours.

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Updated: 7 January 2016