Cancer Care

Kidney Cancer

At MaineHealth, our teams of cancer specialists evaluate and treat patients with all types of kidney cancer. We offer compassionate care and advanced treatment for kidney cancers in adults and children.

What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the kidneys. Abnormal (cancerous) cells form and grow out of control. There are three main types of kidney cancer.

  • Renal cell cancer is the most common kidney cancer in adults. It forms in the kidney tissue that makes urine and is most common in adults

  • Urothelial cancer is an adult cancer that forms in the renal pelvis and ureter.

  • Wilms tumors are more common in children. They also form in kidney tissue that makes urine.

Patient navigators are here to help.

Patient navigators partner with you through your journey towards recovery by providing the help and resources you need.

Kidney Cancer Risks for Adults and Children

Doctors aren’t sure why people get kidney cancer. But there are certain inherited disorders that can raise the kidney cancer risk in adults and children. They include:

  • Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome
  • Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome
  • Hereditary leiomyomatosis
  • Hereditary papillary renal cancer (HPRCC).

Increasing Kidney Cancer Risks in Adults

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Being obese
  • Taking certain pain medications for a long time
  • Having advanced kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Being male (men are twice as likely as women to have kidney cancer)
  • Having lymphoma.

Signs of Kidney Cancer Include Mass on One Side, Back Pain

  • Losing weight without trying
  • Appetite loss
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Mass or lump on one side
  • Feeling overly tired
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever that doesn’t go away.


Testing for Kidney Cancer

If you have kidney cancer symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will feel your stomach and sides for lumps, check your blood pressure and take your temperature.

The following screening tests may help doctors diagnose kidney cancer, or confirm a diagnosis of kidney cancer:

  • Urine test
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • Renal arteriogram

Kidney Cancer Treatment Can Include Surgery, Chemotherapy

  • Surgery, including laparoscopic and robotic surgery
  • Cryotherapy (using extreme cold to kill the cancer)
  • Radiofrequency ablation (using radio waves to kill the cancer)
  • Arterial embolization (blocking blood flow to the cancer)
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy