Kidney Cancer- Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Table of Content

All You Wanted to Know About
Kidney Cancer
Renal Cell Carcinoma

What is Cancer?

The body is made up of cells, which grow and die in a controlled way. Sometimes, cells keep on growing without control, causing an abnormal growth called a tumour. A tumour can be benign (harmless), premalignant (if left untreated, may lead to cancer) or malignant (progressively worsens and can result in death).

Cancer is a malignant tumour.

What is Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)?

RCC is a type of kidney cancer that starts in the lining of very small tubes (tubules) in the kidneys.

What are the Possible Causes/Risk Factors of RCC?

The causes/risk factors that affect a person's chances of developing RCC are as follows:

  • RCC risk increases with increasing age

  • Cigarette smoking doubles the risk of RCC and contributes to as many as one-third of all cases. The risk appears to increase with the amount of amount cigarette smoking.

  • Occupational exposure to petroleum products, heavy metals, solvents, asbestos,cadmium,etc.

  • Some hereditary diseases can increase the risk of RCC,e.g. Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
  • High blood pressure, a family history of renal diseases and associated cancer such as lymphoma increases the risk of RCC.

  • Obesity, particularly in women; increasing body weight increases the risk of RCC.

  • Taking painkillers in large amounts may be associated with an increased incidence of RCC.

  • In patients undergoing long-term renal dialysis, there is an increased incidence of kidney diseases, which can lead to RCC.

  • Tuberous sclerosis (a genetic disorder affecting multiplication of the cells) appears to be associated with RCC.

What are the Symptoms of RCC?

RCC symptoms usually do not appear until the disease has progressed. In fact, it is usually detected 'accidentally" when another symptom or condition is being investigated.

The symptoms of RCC include the following:

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Malaise (feeling of discomfort, illness or uneasiness)

  • Fatigue (tiredness)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Anaemia (low haemoglobin due to an abnormally low number of red blood cells)
  • Fevers

  • Cachexia (wasting away of the physical body without any attempt at dieting)
  • Night sweats

  • Presence of a large abdominal mass
  • Blood in the urine

  • Pain felt on the side or lower back.

In case of any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor.

How is RCC Diagnosed?

There are some general and some specific tests that need to be done to diagnose and confirm RCC such as urine analysis, kidney and liver function tests, ultrasound, CT scans, MRI, PET, intravenous pyelogram (IVP), biopsy (viewing under a microscope), etc.

The doctor will decide the tests that are necessary; all of them may not be done.

What are the Treatment Options for RCC?

Various therapies are used for the treatment of cancer, e.g., removal of the tumour (surgery), killing cancer cells with drugs (chemotherapy) or radiation (radiotherapy).The doctor will decide on the treatment, depending on the type and severity of the disease and the condition of the patient.

How Can RCC be Prevented?

The risk of RCC can be decreased by:

  • Avoiding tobacco in all forms or quitting smoking
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables
  • Keeping away or protecting oneself from secondhand smoke or air pollution by covering one's nose (e.g. by using mask)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling high blood pressure
  • Reducing or avoiding exposure to certain carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) present in the environment e.g. tobacco smoke, drugs, pollutants etc.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Controlling high blood pressure


  • Smoking
  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Being exposed to environmental carcinogens


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