Cancer Home > Kidney Cancer Types

There are several types of kidney cancer. Examples of kidney cancer types include renal cell carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, and Wilms' tumor. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common of the kidney cancer types. Wilms' tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer found in children. Cancer that spreads to the kidneys from elsewhere in the body is not a type of kidney cancer.

Kidney Cancer Types: An Introduction

Several types of cancer can start in the kidney, which include:
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Wilms' tumor.

Kidney Cancer Types: Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common of the kidney cancer types. Renal cell carcinoma is also called renal adenocarcinoma or hypernephroma.

Types of Kidney Cancer: Transitional Cell Carcinoma

Another type of kidney cancer is transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis. This type of kidney cancer is similar to bladder cancer and is often treated like bladder cancer. Transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis is also called transitional cell carcinoma or renal pelvis carcinoma.

Kidney Cancer Types: Wilms' Tumor

Wilms' tumor is the most common type of childhood kidney cancer. Wilms' tumor is different from adult kidney cancer and requires different treatment.
(Click Wilms' Tumor for more information about the most common type of childhood kidney cancer.)

Kidney Cancer Types: Metastatic Kidney Cancer

When kidney cancer spreads outside the kidney, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer has reached these lymph nodes, cancer cells may have spread to other lymph nodes or other organs, such as the lungs, liver, or bones. When kidney cancer spreads (metastasizes) from its original location to another part of the body, the new tumor will have the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if kidney cancer spreads to the lungs, the cancer cells in the lungs are kidney cancer cells. The disease is metastatic kidney cancer, not lung cancer and it is treated as kidney cancer, not as lung cancer. Doctors may call the new tumor "distant" disease.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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