The kidneys are essential organs that form part of the genito-urinary system. The kidneys filter the blood and the waste products are transferred through the ureters to be stored in the bladder as urine. Urine is then discharged through the urethra to empty the bladder.
The kidneys also produce three important hormones: erythropoietin (EPO), which triggers the production of red blood cells in bones; renin, which regulates blood pressure; and vitamin D, which helps regulate the body's metabolism of calcium necessary for healthy bones.
Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)
There are several types of cancer that can affect the kidneys. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), is the most common form and accounts for approximately 85% of all kidney cancers. In RCC, malignant cells develop in the lining of the kidney's tubules and typically grow into a mass called a tumour. Single tumours are the norm, although more than one tumour can develop within one or both kidneys. As with most cancers, the earlier kidney tumours are discovered, the better a patient's chances for survival. Tumours discovered at an early stage often respond well to treatment. Survival rates in such cases are high. Tumours that have grown large or metastasised (spread) through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body are much more difficult to treat and present a greatly increased risk for mortality.
In Australia, kidney cancers account for just over 3% of all malignancies diagnosed in men and women each year.