Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is cancer that forms in the kidneys.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that are about the size of a small fist and sit on each side of the spine, above the waist. Their primary job is to clean the blood and produce urine to rid the body of waste.

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women; however, a person's lifetime risk for being told they have the disease is about 1 in 63 (1.6%).

While there are several types of kidney cancer, the following two are the most common in adults:

  1. Renal Cell Cancer - the most common type of kidney cancer in adults. 

  2. Transitional Cell Cancer - accounts for about 15 percent of adult kidney cancer cases.

Risk factors for kidney cancer include:


  • Smoking

  • Obesity

  • Family history of the disease


Common signs of kidney cancer include:


  • Blood in the urine

  • Back pain

  • Abdominal pain


If you have these symptoms, your doctor will do a physical exam and may order urine tests, blood tests or imaging tests like an ultrasound. Treatments may involve surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.