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Kidney cancer is the third most diagnosed genitourinary malignancy in the world, after prostate and bladder cancer. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which originates from the renal epithelium, is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for more than 80% of cases. There are different subtypes of RCC, which are classified according to the type of cell that is affected or how the cell appears under a microscope. The most common subtype is clear cell RCC, followed by papillary RCC, chromophobe RCC, and other less common subtypes.
Over the last few years, the incidence of kidney cancer has been increasing. However, one contributing factor to this may be the increased use of imaging techniques, such as ultrasonography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. As a result, more than 50% of cases are incidentally diagnosed. The typical age of onset is between 60–70 years, with higher incidence rates in males across all age groups. Well-known risk factors include cigarette smoking – up to one-third of kidney cancer diagnoses may be associated with smoking; exposure to carcinogens, obesity, and hypertension.
Surgery is potentially curative for localized disease. However, at the time of diagnosis, 25– 30% of patients already present with metastatic disease. Recent approvals of immune checkpoint inhibitors have changed and improved the care of advanced RCC. Current research is looking at new treatment strategies such as new tyrosine kinase inhibitors, novel combinations, and alternative agents to improve targeted therapy. Despite this, there remains a need for prognostic markers of recurrence and/or disease progression.View overview page