Department of Health

Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is a term to describe a range of diseases affecting the kidneys. Generally kidney cancer occurs when there is an unregulated growth of cells resulting in a tumour. It is possible for more than one tumour to develop within the kidneys, and as with other cancerous tumours they begin small and develop into larger masses over time.

The most common type of kidney cancer, known as Renal Cell Carcinoma, develops in the renal cortex (the outer lining of the kidney). Other types of kidney cancers include:

  • Angiomyolipomas and Oncocytomas
  • Renal sarcoma
  • Transitional cell carcinomas, and
  • Wilms Tumour.

There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of kidney cancer. These are:

  • Smoking
  • Genetic history
  • Overweight
  • Age: over 40 years
  • Gender: men are more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, and
  • Contact with certain chemicals or substances
  • Prolonged dialysis treatment.

Symptoms of kidney cancer are not always clear, and may relate to other problems, such as urinary tract infections. Some of the signs and symptoms are:

  • A mass or lump in the belly or abdominal area
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anaemia
  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in urine colour
  • Constant tiredness
  • Fever, not linked to any other conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Lower back pain
  • Rapid, unplanned weight loss, and
  • Swelling of abdomen and/or outer body parts, such as ankles.

Further information

For more information about kidney health or this topic, please contact your doctor or Kidney Health Australia:

Phone: Kidney Information Line 1800 682 531 (freecall)