About Kidney Cancer

Primary kidney cancer, also called renal cell cancer, is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts in your kidneys. Although kidney cancer is less common than many other cancers in the United States, more than 55,000 people are diagnosed and treated for this disease each year.

There are two kidneys, one on each side of your spine, deep inside your torso. Each is shaped like a bean that’s about the size of a human fist. They turn your body’s waste into urine.

The kidneys filter impurities and excess salt from your blood. Once the kidneys turn this waste into urine, the fluid passes to the renal pelvis (part of what is known as the collecting system). The urine then goes down long, slender tubes (called ureters) that connect your kidneys to your bladder.

The kidney cancer experts at Memorial Sloan Kettering treat all forms of this cancer, from the various types of renal cortical tumors to the less common transitional cell (urothelial) tumors.

Our goal is to accurately diagnose and treat the cancer so that you have the best possible quality of life. At every step, we’ll work with you to determine the best treatment approach. Through skilled surgery, we can often offer a cure to people whose cancer hasn’t spread past the kidneys.

If surgery isn’t an option for the type or stage of cancer that you have, MSK interventional radiologists may be able to use imaging tests to guide treatments directly to where your tumor is located and destroy it with minimally invasive techniques, such as ablation.

From chemotherapy to targeted therapies and focused radiation, our experienced team of kidney cancer specialists can also offer world-class care for people with kidney cancer that may have spread (metastasized) beyond the kidneys as well.

We work to ensure that you have access to innovative techniques, new drugs, and clinical trials if appropriate. We also offer comprehensive follow-up care and survivorship programs for each of our patients with kidney cancer.