Kidney Cancer

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As Georgia’s largest and most comprehensive cancer program, Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) is an experienced provider of cancer care for individuals diagnosed with kidney cancer.

What Is Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women.

Types of kidney cancer include:

  • Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also called renal cell cancer or renal cell adenocarcinoma, is the most common form of kidney cancer. It starts in in the lining of very small tubes (tubules) in the kidney.
  • Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), also called urothelial carcinoma, is cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter that forms in the kidney's pelvis or the tube (ureter) that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
  • Renal sarcoma, a rare type of kidney cancer, begins in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidney.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Most of the time, early kidney cancers do not usually cause any signs or symptoms. As the cancer grows, some possible signs and symptoms of kidney cancer may include:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).
  • Low back pain on one side (not caused by injury).
  • A mass (lump) on the side or lower back.
  • Fatigue (tiredness).
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss not caused by dieting.
  • Fever that is not caused by an infection and that does not go away.
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts).

Kidney Cancer Risk Factors

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 65,000 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer in the U.S. during 2018. The lifetime risk for developing kidney cancer is about 1 in 63 (1.6%). This risk is higher in men than in women. The average age at diagnosis is 64 and is not common in people younger than 45.

The following may increase an individual’s risk of developing kidney cancer:

  • Smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • Workplace exposure to substances such as cadmium (a type of metal), some herbicides, and organic solvents, particularly trichloroethylene.
  • Family history of kidney cancer.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Advanced kidney disease, especially those needing dialysis.
  • Long-term use of certain medicines, such as pain pills or water pills (diuretics).
  • Genetic and hereditary factors (von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma, Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome, familial renal cancer, Cowden syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and hereditary renal oncocytoma).

As part of our comprehensive approach to cancer prevention and education, Northside offers Built To Quit, a smoking and tobacco cessation program offering resources to help individuals quit smoking and stop using other tobacco products. For additional information please call 404-780-7653 or email [email protected] or click on the button below to register online for an upcoming class.

Built to Quit Class Schedule (English)
Built to Quit Class Schedule (Spanish)

Cancer Genetics Program

Northside Hospital’s  Cancer Genetics Program is available to patients interested in genetic counseling and testing due to strong personal or family histories of certain genetic factors that can cause kidney cancer. Our team of certified genetic counselors helps patients assess, understand and reduce the risk of developing certain types of genetically influenced cancer such as kidney cancer. For additional information, please call 404-851-6284 or email [email protected].

Kidney Cancer Screening & Diagnosis


Currently, for people with an average risk of developing kidney cancer, there are no recommended screening tests since no test has been shown to lower the overall risk of dying from kidney cancer.

For people with an increased risk of developing kidney cancer, such as inherited conditions listed in  Kidney Cancer Risk Factors, many physicians recommend regular imaging tests such as CT, MRI, or ultrasound scans to look for kidney tumors. Kidney cancers that are found early can often be cured.


Kidney cancer incidence rates appear to have stabilized since the mid-2000s following decades of increase, in part due to a rise in cancer detection because of the increased use of medical imaging

Northside’s Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program uses the following tests and procedures to diagnose kidney cancer after a physical examination has been completed:

Team of Kidney Cancer Specialists

The strength of Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program is our multidisciplinary team of dedicated, specially trained kidney cancer specialists who work together to provide individualized medical care for each patient. Our Program offers a comprehensive scope of medical services, the latest technology, leading-edge clinical research, and compassionate cancer care.

At Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, cancer specialists work together to provide the best care possible to patients diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Our multidisciplinary cancer care team consists of:

  • Urologists.
  • Radiation oncologists.
  • Medical oncologists.
  • Radiologists.
  • Pathologists.
  • Certified genetic counselors.
  • Oncology nurse navigators.
  • Clinical research nurses.

Our team of kidney cancer experts meets regularly during cancer conferences to prospectively discuss kidney cancer patients and agree upon evidence-based Kidney Cancer Treatment Options for each patient. Cancer conferences provide our medical specialists with a forum to discuss each kidney cancer case, review national treatment guidelines, and agree upon a personalized plan of care while considering each patient’s unique life circumstances.


Kidney Cancer Treatment Options

The Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s  Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program is committed to offering the best treatment options available to kidney cancer patients and ensuring access to care is as convenient as possible. We treat kidney cancer with the latest treatments and technology, including personalized cancer therapies based on the kidney cancer’s specific genetic makeup. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute kidney cancer specialists and supportive care team members work together to ensure all patients receive a personalized, evidence-based treatment plan specific to their cancer needs.

Expand the content below to learn more about each kidney cancer treatment option.

Kidney Cancer Support & Survivorship

Kidney cancer treatment and recovery can be overwhelming, which is why we have oncology nurse navigators to guide you every step of your cancer journey. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s nurse navigators are registered nurses with extensive knowledge and training in oncology, available to help support patients after their cancer diagnosis and throughout treatment, educating and supporting cancer patients to make informed decisions about their care.

Support provided by oncology nurse navigators includes:

  • Clinical information and education on kidney cancer.
  • Answering questions about diagnosis, treatments and any side effects experienced.
  • Facilitating communication between the patient and their care team.
  • Access to emotional and psychological support, including referrals to the right counseling services and support groups.
  • Monitoring each patient’s health and overall cancer treatment progress.

To learn more about  oncology patient navigation or to speak with an oncology nurse navigator, please call 404-300-2800 or email [email protected].

Ongoing support is crucial when facing kidney cancer and afterward. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute provides a full range of support and survivorship programs and services to address the unique needs of each kidney cancer patient.

Learn more about Cancer Support & Survivorship programs and services available at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.