About kidney cancer

What are the kidneys?

The kidneys are small bean-shaped organs that lie at the back of your body, just below your ribcage, one on each side.

There are normally two kidneys in your body, but you can survive on one alone. On top of each kidney is a tiny gland called the adrenal gland that makes hormones.

The kidneys filter your blood to remove waste products. These waste products are then made into urine. The urine is carried from each kidney through a tube called a ureter to your bladder. Your bladder then stores the urine until it is ready to leave your body. It does this by passing through the urethra in women and the tip of the penis in men.

What is kidney cancer?

When cancer develops in one of your kidneys, the cells change and grow in an abnormal way. A group of these cancer cells can form a tumour. It can affect how your kidney works normally.

Cancer of the kidney is also known as renal cell cancer or renal cell adenocarcinoma. It is the most common type of kidney cancer. About 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are of this type. It affects more men than women and is rare under the age of 40. More kidney cancers are being diagnosed today due to improved abdominal scanning.

How common is kidney cancer?

In Ireland, kidney cancer has been increasing in the last twenty years. In 2017 it was estimated that 622 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in Ireland each year. 

Useful resources

Read more information in our booklet Understanding Cancer of the Kidney

Note: Links to external websites are listed below. The Irish Cancer Society is not responsible for the contents of external websites.

Date Last Revised: 
Friday, July 10, 2015