In the United States, about 35,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year. Men are twice as likely as women to develop a kidney tumor. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.

Although blood in the urine can be a sign of kidney cancer, early kidney cancers usually do not have any symptoms at all. In fact, most cases today are diagnosed incidentally through computerized tomography (CT) scans or other imaging procedures performed for unrelated reasons. Tests to confirm a kidney cancer diagnosis can include X-ray procedures, urine and blood tests and needle biopsy.

When kidney tumors are detected at an early stage, a large majority of patients achieve long-term survival.

Kidney Cancer Treatment

In the past, the most common approach to treating kidney cancer was to remove the entire organ. As diagnostic imaging technologies like CT have become more sophisticated and more widely used, more kidney tumors are being identified at an early stage. Physicians are increasingly able to treat just the tumor rather than removing a kidney.

Treatment options vary, depending on each patient’s individual disease and health issues. An organ-sparing approach to treating kidney cancer can help a patient avoid some long-term potential side effects, especially for patients who already suffer from diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

The Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program offers a full range of surgical and interventional techniques for treating kidney tumors while preserving as much healthy organ tissue as possible. Kidney cancer specialists at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin perform a high volume of kidney cancer procedures.

Clinical Trials for Kidney Cancer

Drug therapy for kidney cancer is a rapidly evolving field, and there are many promising targeted drug therapies in development. Urologic cancer specialists at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin are actively involved in national trials to evaluate new medications. Certain drug therapies are only available through these investigational studies. To find out more, view our list of kidney cancer clinical trials.

Genetic Screening

While most cases of kidney cancer are “spontaneous,” some are associated with specific genetic syndromes. Individuals with a strong family history of kidney tumors may benefit from genetic counseling through our Cancer Genetics Screening Program.