What Are the Different Types of Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer is categorised into multiple categories and subtypes. The type of helps doctors choose the best course of treatment for you.

An unchecked growth in one of your two kidneys is known as kidney cancer. Renal cell carcinoma is the term used to describe most kidney cancers. The tubules, which are a component of the nephrons in your kidneys that filter blood and create urine, are where these tumours begin.

The appearance of cancer cells under a microscope can be used to further categorise renal cell carcinoma.

This article looks at the various forms of kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer types

Renal cell carcinoma, also known as renal cell adenocarcinoma, accounts for about 90% of cases of kidney cancer. These kinds of renal cell carcinoma can be further subdivided.

Types of renal cell carcinoma

Clear cell

About 70–80% of cases of renal cell carcinoma are clear cell cases. Looking at the cells under a microscope, they usually appear transparent or pale. About 70% of survivors make it to five years.


About 5–10% of instances of renal cell carcinoma are papillary renal cell carcinomas. The papillae, which resemble fingers, are produced by the cancer cells. It has about a 90% 5-year survival rate.


About 5% of renal cell carcinomas are chromophobe renal carcinomas. Larger than cancerous clear cell tumour cells, the cells seem pale. The prognosis for chromophobe malignancies is better because only 7% of them will spread.

Sarcomatoid renal cell cancer

About 5% of renal cell carcinomas are sarcomatoid kidney cancers. It grows more quickly than other forms of renal cell carcinoma and is more likely to be discovered later in life.

Clear cell papillary renal cell carcinoma

Of all kidney malignancies, clear cell papillary renal cell carcinoma makes for 1-4 percent. It combines characteristics of papillary and clear cell carcinomas. Over 90% of survivorship at two years has been reported.

Collecting duct

A rare variant of renal cell carcinoma called collecting duct renal cell carcinoma develops in the tubes that convey urine from your nephrons to your renal pelvis. Less than 1% of kidney tumours are of this aggressive kind. The majority of people only live for a year or less.


People of African origin with sickle cell disease or other sickle cell blood disorders are more likely to develop medullary renal cell carcinoma, also known as SMARCB1-deficient renal medullary carcinoma.

Mucinous tubular and spindle cell carcinoma (MTSCC)

Less than 0.8% of kidney tumours are believed to be MTSCC, a low-grade carcinoma. Cancer cells appear under a microscope to be tubes merging with projections that resemble spindles.

Acquired cystic disease-associated renal cell carcinoma (ACDARC)

Only individuals with end-stage renal disease who also have acquired cystic kidney disease develop ACDARC. Kidney cysts brought on by this illness have the potential to develop into malignancy. It has a strong correlation with chronic dialysis.

Multilocular cystic

About 3.1–6% of renal cell carcinomas are multilocular cystic renal cell carcinomas. It usually has a very positive viewpoint.

Other types of kidney cancers

One of the following groups frequently describes 10% of kidney malignancies, which are not renal carcinomas.

Wilms tumor

The most prevalent type of juvenile abdomen cancer is nephroblastoma, often known as wilms tumour. Approximately 1 in 10,000 children will develop it.

Positive or negative traits might be present in wilms tumours. The survival rate of favourable tumours can reach 99%, while that of unfavourable cancers can drop as low as 38%.

Upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma

Formerly known as transitional cell cancer of the kidney or ureter, upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma was first identified. The renal pelvis and ureter's lining transitional cells are where it begins. Urine is collected by the renal pelvis and then transported to your bladder via the ureter.

About 5–7% of kidney tumours are composed of it.

Sarcoma of the kidney (renal sarcoma)

Kidney sarcoma is an uncommon type of cancer that begins in the connective tissue of your kidney. Less than 1% of kidney malignancies are tumours that originate in the connective tissue around the kidney.

Kidney metastasis

Cancer that has moved from another area of your body to your kidneys is known as renal metastasis. The following cancer types frequently spread to the kidneys:
  • lung cancer
  • stomach cancer
  • breast cancer
  • colon cancer

Benign (noncancerous) kidney tumors

If benign kidney tumours press against healthy tissue within your body, it might lead to complications. They may consist of:
  • Papillary renal adenoma: Renal adenoma in papillary form is the most prevalent benign kidney tumour. It usually grows slowly.
  • Angiomyolipoma: The most prevalent kind of benign kidney tumour is angiomyolipoma. If it isn't creating issues, it frequently doesn't require therapy.
  • Oncocytoma: Large oncocytomas are frequently treatable by surgery. About 3–7% of kidney tumours are composed of them.
  • Juxtaglomerular cell tumors: Renin is a hormone secreted by these tumours that aids in blood pressure regulation. From 1967 to 2020, just roughly 150 cases were reported.


One of the most prevalent types of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma. Depending on the unique characteristics of the cancer, it is divided into smaller categories.

Renal cell carcinoma is not the case in a tiny percentage of kidney malignancies. Your doctor can better treat and prepare you for the future if they know what kind of cancer you have.

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