Malignant changes in kidney cells represent one of the rarer forms of cancer. Every year, more than 403,000 people around the world are diagnosed with kidney cancer, representing approximately 2.2% of all new cancer diagnoses. Kidney cancer causes around 175,000 deaths annually.1 The most common form of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC) which accounts for approximately 90 percent of kidney cancer diagnoses.2
In general, men are twice as likely to be affected by RCC as women. The average age of diagnosis is between the ages of 50 and 70. Typical symptoms, such as blood in the urine, generally appear at a relatively late stage of disease. Other symptoms, such as backache or abdominal pain tend to be non-specific. As a result, RCC is often discovered by chance during routine imaging examinations for unrelated complaints. Metastases have already formed in 20-30%3 of patients at the time of diagnosis. Renal cell carcinomas are fatal for about a half of patients.
It is still unclear why renal cells become malignant. It is suspected, however, that certain genes are no longer fulfilling their function, so the uncontrolled proliferation of cells is no longer blocked. In addition, smoking, obesity, high fat diets, hormonal factors, petroleum products, asbestos, certain solvents, certain rare inherited conditions and painkillers containing phenacetine have been cited as RCC risk factors.
Advice for patients
The earlier a patient is diagnosed with RCC, the more treatment options are available. The preferred way of treating RCC is to surgically remove the tumor or the entire kidney in an operation. Additional possibilities include radiotherapy, immunotherapy or target therapies. The disease is sometimes also treated with chemotherapy. Despite these possibilities, the prospects of a cure are limited, especially if the therapy is started at a late stage. If metastases have already formed, this worsens the prognosis.
Bayer Treatment for RCC
In 2006, Bayer brought to market a new drug, the first targeted therapy to show an improvement in overall survival in advanced RCC patients. In studies the drug has been shown to significantly inhibit the tumor's further development. There are now several targeted therapies approved to treat advanced RCC and delay tumor progression.
1 Health Organization: GLOBOCAN 2018. Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide in 2018. http://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/populations/900-world-fact-sheets.pdf.
Accessed November 2019.
2 American Cancer Society. About Kidney Cancer. 2017. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/CRC/PDF/Public/8659.00.pdf. Accessed January 2019.
3 Börje Ljungberg et al. The Epidemiology of Renal Cell Carcinoma. European Association of Urology. 2011:60: 615-621. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0302283811007226. Accessed November 2019.