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Basics of kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer (also called renal cancer) happens when abnormal cells in the kidney start to grow out of control. The American Cancer Society® estimates that about 63,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018. It is more common in men than in women and most patients are diagnosed when they are older. Kidney cancer is rare in people under the age of 45.1

There are several types of kidney cancer:

  • Renal cell carcinoma (90 percent of cases)
  • Transitional cell carcinoma (5 to 10 percent cases)
  • Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma), which is usually diagnosed in children (it is rare in adults)
  • Renal sarcoma (less than 1 percent of all cases)

Common treatments for kidney cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy, which helps the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells
  • Targeted drugs, which focus on keeping specific types of cancer cells from growing

The type of treatment your doctor plans for you will depend on the stage of your cancer (how far it has spread), the specific type of cancer, and your overall state of health. In some cases, when the tumor is very small, a doctor may decide to watch the cancer (called active surveillance) to see if it grows before starting any treatment.

Because most treatments for cancer have side effects, it’s important to take care of yourself both before and during treatment. Things you can do to make treatment easier include:

  • Getting enough rest
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Staying physically active
  • Staying connected with family and friends

If you have any questions about your treatment, or have concerns about side effects, talk to your doctor or call your CVS Specialty CareTeam.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

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1. American Cancer Society® Website. Accessed October 3, 2018.

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