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Overview of the treatment of renal cell carcinoma

Michael B Atkins, MD
Section Editor
Jerome P Richie, MD, FACS
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD


Renal cell carcinomas (RCCs), which originate within the renal cortex, constitute 80 to 85 percent of primary renal neoplasms. Urothelial (transitional cell) carcinomas of the renal pelvis account for approximately 8 percent of kidney tumors, and other parenchymal epithelial tumors, such as oncocytomas, collecting duct tumors, and renal sarcomas, are rare. Nephroblastoma (Wilms' tumor) is common in children (5 to 6 percent of primary renal tumors). (See "Epidemiology, pathology, and pathogenesis of renal cell carcinoma" and "Malignancies of the renal pelvis and ureter".)

An overview of the approach to treatment is presented here; more detailed discussions of specific aspects of treatment are discussed in other topics, as noted below.


The initial approach to a patient with presumed renal cell carcinoma (RCC) needs to consider the extent of disease, as well as the patient's age and comorbidity (algorithm 1).

RCC can be classified as:

Localized disease – This includes stage I, II, and III (table 1). (See 'Localized RCC' below.)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 28, 2017.
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