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Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is among the top 10 most common cancers for men and women. The rate of new kidney cancer diagnosis has risen as it is being detected more frequently through CT scans. When caught early, it is treatable and the number of survivors in remission has grown.

At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we’re committed to providing compassionate, high-quality cancer care to the Central Kentucky communities we serve. From the most advanced imaging technology available, to a full range of treatment options and support services, you’ll find everything you need at locations close to home.

Learn more about our comprehensive care below. To request a referral to one of our caring specialists, call 844.303.9355, or find a provider anytime online.

About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer starts when the cells of the kidneys mutate and form a tumor. Sometimes multiple tumors can form, break off and migrate to different parts of the body.

There are two main types of kidney cancer:

  • Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer and accounts for about 90 percent of cancerous tumors. It starts in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney.
  • Wilms’ tumor may develop in young children but is rare.

Kidney cancer does not usually cause signs or symptoms in the early stages, and there are currently no routine screening tests. In the later stages, kidney cancer signs and symptoms could include blood in the urine, back pain that won’t go away, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, chronic fatigue and intermittent fevers.

Causes & Prevention 

Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes kidney cancer, but there are some known risk factors:

  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure / hypertension
  • Kidney failure treatment / dialysis
  • Inherited syndromes like von Hippel-Lindau, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis
  • Family history of kidney cancer
  • Frequent exposure to cadmium or specific herbicides

There best preventative measures include taking steps to improve your current health:

  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control high blood pressure


Kidney cancer is usually detected at more advanced stages because it can grow quite large before causing discomfort or pain. Tumors are also difficult to detect in a standard physical because the kidneys are deep inside the body. The majority of cases where kidney cancer is caught early on scans, the patient was being tested because they were suffering from symptoms of other kidney issues. If you are not at an increased risk, then it not recommended to put yourself through frequent CT scans or MRIs.


If you find that you have kidney cancer, rest assured you have some of the Commonwealth’s best experts by your side. Our dedicated team—including board-certified urologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists and more specialists—work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan.


Surgery to remove of all or part of the kidney is the main treatment for most kidney cancers. This may include removing the bladder, surrounding tissues or lymph nodes. Until recently, kidney removal could only be accomplished through a surgical procedure called open or partial nephrectomies. This procedure requires a large, muscle-cutting abdominal incision, removal of a rib and a relatively longer hospital stay and recovery period. Fortunately, new, minimally invasive techniques now make the procedure much easier for patients. At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we offer both laparoscopic and the da Vinci robotic surgical system, which allows your surgeon to perform a more precise operation that results in significantly less pain and a faster recovery.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are generally not effective for treating kidney cancer, but occasionally a medicine called interleukin may help some patients by increasing their immune response.

Hormone Treatments

In some rare cases, hormone treatments may be used to decrease the size of existing tumors, but it will not remove the presence of the tumor or reduce the number of cancerous cells in the body. It is best used to help relieve the symptoms of kidney cancer.

Genetic Counseling

If you have a family history of kidney or renal cancer, it is possible to test for hereditary cancer syndromes. One of our genetic counselors can work with you and your doctors to determine if you are at risk for certain cancers and steps that should be taken to prevent cancer cells and tumors.


Throughout your journey, you’ll find a variety of cancer support services to meet your physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs. We’ll help you coordinate your care, answer any questions and provide extra comfort and support every step of the way.

Cancer Care Locations

To make your appointment, find a cancer specialist anytime online or learn more about our dedicated team at a CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care location near you:

Find a Provider

Find a primary care provider or specialist near you in our extensive network of clinics and hospitals.