What Is Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer, or renal cancer, is a form of cancer in which cancer cells grow in the tissues of the kidneys. These two bean-shaped organs, located on each side of the body above the waist, are responsible for filtering and cleaning blood, removing waste, and producing urine. Kidney cancer generally develops as one tumor in one kidney, but multiple tumors can be found in one kidney, or there can be tumors in both kidneys.

Older men, obese individuals, and smokers are at a slightly higher risk of developing kidney cancer. Having high blood pressure, a family history of kidney cancer, and advanced kidney disease or long-term dialysis can also increase one’s risk.

While treatment varies by patient, early-stage kidney cancers are often treated successfully through surgery to remove all or some of the infected organ. Doctors may also recommend targeted therapies, clinical trials, and immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors.

Most kidney cancer patients do not experience symptoms until the tumor has begun to grow, and the signs can vary from person to person. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of this disease in the infographic below.

kidney cancer


Visit Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology for more information on kidney cancer treatment and research.