By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Renal cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of kidney cancer and its incidence is on the rise.
Renal cell carcinoma is difficult to detect and most cases are therefore detected when the cancer has already reached the more advanced stages and spread (metastasized) to other organs. At this stage, the cancer cannot be cured and treatment is instead aimed at slowing disease progression and alleviating symptoms.
Incidence of this disease is influenced by geographic, demographic and hereditary factors. Incidence is higher among men, who are around 60% more likely to develop the condition than women. Most men diagnosed with the condition are over the age of 65 years.
Renal cell carcinoma is significantly less common among Asians than among white populations and incidence is lowest in African countries. In the United States, incidence is highest among African Amercians. Incidence is also higher in developed versus developing countries, with the highest rates reported in New Zealand, North America, Australia and Europe.
The worldwide incidence of renal cell carcinoma had been increasing by around 2% to 3% per decade, but this rate has decreased over the last few years. In the UK, kidney cancer is one of the most common cancers, with 9,300 people diagnosed every year.
According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, around 63,920 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in 2014 (39,140 in men and 24,780 in women). In addition, around 13,860 people (8,900 men and 4,960 women) will die from the disease. These statistics, however, refer to all types of kidney cancer and renal pelvis cancer rather than renal cell carcinoma alone.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014