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Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma (PRCC)

What is papillary renal cell carcinoma? 

Papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC) is a form of kidney cancer. It is estimated that 10-15% of all renal cell carcinomas are this form. Papillary means that finger-like masses can be found in the tumors on the lining of the tubules in the kidney. 

There are two types of PRCC: type 1 and type 2. The former is more common and less severe, while the latter is more aggressive. 

Those above the age of 55 are typically those who are affected by this cancer. It is estimated that between 3,500 and 5,000 new cases of PRCC are diagnosed each year. 

What are the symptoms of papillary renal cell carcinoma?

Symptoms vary from person to person, depending on the type and severity. Common symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • A lump or mass on the side of the body
  • Fever 

What causes papillary renal cell carcinoma?

The exact causes of cancer are unknown, but there are risk factors that can heighten one’s chance of developing PRCC. They include obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. 

There is a hereditary condition that increases the risk of developing this cancer, called hereditary papillary renal carcinoma (HPRC). It increases the likelihood of type 1 PRCC, and it is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. 

How is papillary renal cell carcinoma diagnosed?

A physical examination and finding of characteristic symptoms may lead a doctor to suspect cancer. To further explore this diagnosis, multiple tests may be performed, including MRIs, CT scans, blood tests, ultrasounds, and urinalysis. If any of these tests reveal a tumor, a biopsy will be used to confirm the diagnosis. 

Further testing will be needed to confirm what stage of cancer one has. 

What are the treatments for papillary renal cell carcinoma?

Treatment depends on the severity, stage, and type of PRCC one has. There are five options for standard treatment. 

Surgery can be performed to remove the tumor. If the cancer is severe, the kidney, adrenal gland, and lymph nodes may also be removed. 

The other four options include radiation, chemotherapy, biologics, and targeted therapy. 

Where can I find out more about papillary renal cell carcinoma?

Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma Articles

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