Other Types of Kidney Cancer

Transitional Cell Carcinoma

About 6 to 7 percent of kidney cancers begin not in the kidney itself, but in the renal pelvis, the point where the kidney joins the tube that carries urine form the kidney to the bladder (ureter). These tumors are called transitional cell carcinomas and are made up of cancer cells different from those that characterize RCC. Research indicates these tumors are caused by cigarette smoking.

The symptoms of transitional cell carcinoma are quite similar to those of RCC, and include hematuria and back or flank pain.

If found early, these cancers have a 90 percent cure rate. Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the kidney, ureter, and portion of the bladder connecting to the ureter. Depending on the stage of the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may be used as adjuvant treatments.

The prognosis for cure declines sharply when the cancer invades the ureter wall or penetrates the kidney. Regular follow-up examinations after surgery are important, as transitional cell carcinoma is prone to recurrence.

Wilms' Tumor

A relatively rare form of kidney cancer, Wilms' tumor (also known as nephroblastoma) accounts for about 5 to 8 percent of kidney tumors in children. It occurs in about 7 out of every 1 million children around the world per year, regardless of race, and is thought to be caused by genetic mutation that causes abnormal growth within the tubules of the kidney nephrons. The disease occurs equally in boys and girls. It typically first appears in children between 2 and 5 years of age but has been known to occur rarely in adolescents as old as 15.

Wilms' tumor can arise anywhere within the kidney's tissues. Untreated, it can spread to the veins, lymph nodes, adrenal glands, large or small bowel, and liver. Fortunately, advances in radiation and chemotherapy over the past few decades, pediatric anesthesia, and surgery have made Wilms' tumor one of the most curable of all childhood cancers. Today the 5-year survival rate approaches 90 percent.

Renal Sarcoma

Renal sarcoma is a rare disease of the kidney's connective tissues that accounts for less than 1% of all kidney tumors. Its symptoms are similar to those of RCC: hematuria, pain in the back or flank, or a lump and mass in the abdomen. In most cases, it is impossible to differentiate renal sarcoma from RCC externally, so the diagnosis usually is made after examination of a CT scan or MRI procedure.

Such tumors will grow and spread to adjacent organs, bones, and lymph nodes if left untreated. The only potentially curative form of treatment is surgery, usually radical or partial nephrectomy, sometimes with radiation or chemotherapy.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015