Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer (90%) and originates in the lining of the renal tubules (small tubes in the kidney) that filter and clean the blood, remove waste products, and produce urine.
Renal cell carcinoma occurs more often in men, people who smoke, or who have other kidney disorders, as well as individuals with a family history of kidney cancer or inherited disorders that increase the risk of renal cell carcinoma (see Causes below).
Renal cell carcinoma is categorized by the following stages:
Stage I – Tumor is in kidney, has not spread (metastasized), and is 7 centimeters or less.
Stage II – Tumor is in kidney, has not spread, and is larger than 7 centimeters.
Stage III – The kidney cancer is any size and has spread to near lymph nodes (metastasis); or the cancer has spread to blood vessels in the kidney or nearby blood vessels (renal vein or vena cava), to the parts of the kidney that collect urine, or to the layer of fat surrounding the kidney and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV – The cancer has spread outside the fat surrounding the kidney, and may have spread to the adrenal gland on top of the kidney or nearby lymph nodes; or the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the adrenal glands, distant lymph nodes, liver, lungs, brain, or bone.
The stage of renal cell carcinoma determines its treatment and outcome (prognosis).