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More than 13,300 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in the UK each year. The incidence is increasing annually, mostly due to lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, but in part due to better scanning facilities being able to pick up small tumours. Kidney cancer is now the seventh most common cancer in British adults; however, it is still considered to be a less common cancer, although around 4,700 people die from the disease every year. Kidney cancer accounts for 4% of all new cancer cases in the UK. About a third of all kidney cancers are diagnosed in people aged over 75 and the highest rates are seen in people aged 85-89 (see Cancer Research UK: Kidney cancer statistics for more information).

This section attempts to answer some of the more common questions asked about kidney cancer. If you have any further questions about the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with kidney cancer, please do not hesitate to email us, ring our helpline, or post on our patient support forum.

Disclaimer: Our website provides general information only, and none of the information contained within our site shall be deemed to constitute medical advice in any way. You should seek appropriate medical advice or guidance from your doctor or health care team in relation to any medical condition.

Updated: October 2023                                                                                                                      Next review: October 2025

What are the kidneys and what to they do?

A description of the kidneys and how they work to filter the blood

What is cancer?

A description of how gene mutations cause cells grow to form cancerous tumours and how cancer spreads

What is kidney cancer?

A description of the different forms of kidney cancer and what makes them different

How many people get kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is the seventh most common form of cancer in the UK

What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

A list of the most common symptoms of kidney cancer

What causes kidney cancer?

A list of the most common risk factors for kidney cancer

How is kidney cancer diagnosed?

A description of the main tests used to diagnose kidney cancer

How is kidney cancer treated?

A description of the main surgical treatments for kidney cancer

What happens after surgery?

An explanation of what happens after surgery and the follow-up schedule

Are there treatments to stop the cancer coming back?

Medicines to stop recurrence of the cancer

How is metastatic kidney cancer treated?

Medicines to treat kidney cancer that has spread

What is von Hippel-Lindau syndrome?

A description of the rare hereditary condition, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome

What is Wilms’ tumour?

A description of the rare childhood kidney cancer, Wilms’ tumour

Can kidney cancer be cured?

Treatments that can keep the cancer under control and improve outcomes

Are there alternative or complementary therapies?

Non-standard of care therapies for kidney cancer

Further reading and guidelines

A list of websites about the care and treatment of kidney cancer patients

European guidelines for kidney cancer

European Association of Urology guidelines for the treatment of kidney cancer

NICE guidelines for kidney cancer

NICE guidelines for the treatment of kidney cancer in England and Wales

Essential guides

We have produced a number of Essential guides to kidney cancer that go into a lot more detail about all aspects of kidney cancer, including diagnosis, staging and grading, surgery, medical treatments and rare forms of kidney cancer and how they are treated. Please see our Essential guides to kidney cancer page to read more.

Kidney Cancer Basics

The International Kidney Cancer Coalition (IKCC) has produced a Kidney Cancer Basics booklet that gives a comprehensive and easy-to-understand overview of kidney cancer, diagnosis and treatment. We hope you find this booklet useful.

Kidney Cancer Basics

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