About the kidneys
Every person has two kidneys, which are located above the waist on both sides of the spine. These reddish-brown, bean-shaped organs are each about the size of a small fist. They are located closer to the back of the body than to the front.
The kidneys filter blood to remove impurities, excess minerals and salts, and extra water. Every day, the kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood to generate two quarts of urine. The kidneys also produce hormones that help control blood pressure, red blood cell production, and other bodily functions.
Although most people have two kidneys, each works independently. This means the body can function with less than one complete kidney. With dialysis, a mechanized filtering process, it is possible to live without functioning kidneys.
About kidney cancer
Kidney cancer begins when healthy cells in one or both kidneys change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be malignant, indolent, or benign. A malignant tumor is cancerous, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. An indolent tumor is also cancerous, but this type of tumor rarely spreads to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.
Types of kidney cancer
There are several types of kidney cancer:
Renal cell carcinoma. Renal cell carcinomais the most common type of adult kidney cancer, making up about 85% of diagnoses. This type of cancer develops in the proximal renal tubules that make up the kidney’s filtration system. There are thousands of these tiny filtration units in each kidney.