Types of Kidney Cancer

There are several different types of kidney cancer. Each type is determined largely by the characteristics it exhibits, such as its location and how the cells appear when examined under a microscope.  Renal cell carcinoma is by far the most common form of kidney cancer, accounting for about nine of every 10 diagnoses. This form of kidney cancer tends to grow as a single tumor within one kidney, but has been known to form two or more tumors within the same kidney, or form tumors within both kidneys. Additionally, renal cell carcinoma has several subtypes, based on how the cells look under a microscope. For instance, clear cell renal cell carcinoma has cells that are very pale or clear, while papillary renal cell carcinoma has cells with finger-like projections. Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma also has pale or clear cells, but the cells are larger and have certain recognizable features. Other common types of kidney cancer include:

  • Transitional cell carcinoma – This cancer forms in the lining of the renal pelvis, or the space within the kidney where urine collects before it is expelled into the bladder. Transitional cell carcinoma has been linked to tobacco use as well as exposure to carcinogens.
  • Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma) – This form of kidney cancer is most common in children. The tumors can often grow quite large before they are detected, and sometimes grow larger than the kidney itself.
  • Renal sarcoma – This is a rare form of kidney cancer that originates in the blood vessels or connective tissue within a kidney.

Within Moffitt Cancer Center’s Urologic Oncology Program, our team of experts has a deep understanding of the dynamics of the various forms that kidney cancer can take. We remain committed to employing the most effective and least invasive treatment options available in an effort to improve patients’ outcomes and preserve their quality of life. Our multispecialty team will help determine the precise type of kidney cancer you have, and then will meet every week as a collaborative tumor board to develop and monitor your individualized treatment plan, which will be continually adapted to the characteristics and dynamics of your cancer. Also, through our ongoing clinical trials program, we are able to offer treatments that are not available anywhere else.  Contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or by using our online new patient registration form to learn more about the types of kidney cancer and our various treatment options. No referral is necessary to meet with our oncologists specializing in kidney cancer.