Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) represents 2-3% of all cancers. Learn more about this disease, its diagnosis and treatments.

Many renal masses remain asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease.

Currently, more than 50% of RCCs are detected incidentally when non-invasive imaging is used to investigate a variety of nonspecific symptoms and other abdominal diseases . The classic triad of flank pain, gross haematuria, and palpable abdominal mass is now rare (6-10%) and correlates with advanced disease.

Paraneoplastic syndromes are found in approximately 30% of patients with symptomatic RCCs. Most common paraneoplastic syndromes are: Hypertension, cachexia, weight loss, pyrexia, neuromyopathy, amyloidosis, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, anemia, abnormal liver function, hypercalcemia and polycythemia

Physical examination has only a limited role in the diagnosis of RCC. However, the following findings should prompt radiological examinations: Palpable abdominal mass; palpable cervical lymphadenopathy; non-reducing varicocele and bilateral lower extremity oedema, which suggests venous involvement .

If symptoms or the results of the physical exam suggest kidney cancer, more tests will probably be performed including lab tests and imaging tests

  • Lab tests
    • Urinalysis
    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Blood chemistry tests
  • Imaging tests
    • Computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and ultrasound can be very helpful in diagnosing most kinds of kidney tumors, although patients rarely need all of these tests.
    • Other tests, such as chest x-rays and bone scans, are more often used to help determine if the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.

2–3 %

of all cancers


renal masses remain asymptomatic


is the first treatment option

Sources :

1 Chow WH, Dong LM, Devesa SS. . Epidemiology and risk factors for kidney cancer. Nat Rev Urol 2010; 7: 245–257
2 European Network of Cancer Registries. Eurocim version 4.0. European incidence database V2.3, 730 entity dictionary (2001), Lyon, 2001.
3 Lindblad P. Epidemiology of renal cell carcinoma. Scand J Surg 2004;93(2):88-96
4 Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: estimates for 40 countries in 2012. Eur J Cancer 2013 Apr;49(6):1374-403.
5 Levi F, Ferlay J, Galeone C, et al. The changing pattern of kidney cancer incidence and mortality in Europe. BJU Int 2008 Apr;101(8):949-58
6 Renal cell carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
7 Guidelines on Renal Cell Carcinoma, European Association of Urology, 2014–
8 American Cancer Society.
9 European Association of Urology. Guidelines for Clear Cell Renal Cancers That Are Resistant to Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor–Targeted Therapy

Last update 13/04/2017