Kidney Cancer

Published In: Urologic Diseases In America / Edited By Mark S. Litwin and Christopher S. Saigal (Washington, D.C.: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2007), Chapter 10, p. 337-376, NIH Pub. no. 07-5512

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Eric M. Wallen, Geoffrey F. Joyce, Matthew Wise

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Kidney cancer, the third most common urologic malignancy and the seventh most common cancer overall, was diagnosed in an estimated 35,000 Americans in 2005, and nearly 13,000 died from it. That year, kidney cancer constituted 3% of new cancer cases and 3% of all cancer deaths in men. Kidney cancer occurs about half as often in women and constitutes less than 2% of female cancer cases and deaths. When discovered in its early stages, the disease is curable, but metastatic kidney cancer is usually fatal. Fortunately, the recent increase in kidney cancer incidence reflects primarily small tumors discovered incidentally during abdominal imaging. A table lists the diagnosis and procedure codes associated with kidney cancer. Kidney cancer imposes a significant burden on the US healthcare system, as its diagnosis involves advanced radiologic testing and its treatment often involves surgery, hospitalization, and regular surveillance visits to assess for recurrence. These interventions result in loss of work time and regular activity, not only for the patient but also for family members providing support. Currently, less than 1% of visits to urologists are for the treatment of kidney cancer.

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