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What is kidney cancer?
The most common type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma. This cancer forms in the cells lining the small tubules in the kidney that filter waste from the blood and make urine. An estimated 58,240 Americans were expected to have been diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2010 and an estimated 13,040 to have died of this cancer.1 Most people with kidney cancer are usually over 55 years of age and this cancer is more common in men. When detected early, most cases of kidney cancer can be treated effectively. However, survival rates are low when the cancer has spread from the kidney to other parts of the body. View additional information on kidney cancer.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) will analyze two subtypes of renal cell carcinoma called clear cell carcinoma and papillary carcinoma. The identification of these subtypes of kidney cancer is based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope. Kidney clear cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, representing approximately 92 percent of such cases. Papillary carcinoma accounts for about 8 percent.2
What have TCGA researchers learned about kidney clear cell carcinoma?
TCGA researchers have:
- Observed molecular alterations in kidney clear cell carcinoma that modulate cell signaling
- Kidney clear cell carcinoma tumors contained frequent alterations in VHL and its interaction partners, genes involved in cellular oxygen sensing
- Genes of the PI(3)K/AKT pathway were highly mutated, suggesting that tumors may respond to specific inhibitors of this pathway
- SETD2, a gene that codes for an enzyme that adds methyl groups to DNA, was frequently mutated and this mutation led to global hypomethylation and vast changes in gene expression
- Identified altered cellular metabolism as a distinguishing characteristic of kidney clear cell carcinoma
- Shifted cellular metabolism to favor certain pathways and reduce the use of others was associated with poor outcomes
- In some cases metabolic shift may be caused by changes in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, which was altered in 28 percent of tumor samples
- Clustered kidney clear cell carcinomas into four subtypes based on expression of mRNA and microRNA
- The subtypes were associated with differential survival patterns
Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network’s studies or studies using TCGA data?
Where can I find cancer clinical trials to treat kidney cancers that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?
View a list of NCI-supported kidney clear cell carcinoma clinical trials or kidney papillary carcinoma clinical trials that are now accepting patients.
1American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2010. The estimated number of kidney cancer new cases and deaths are a combined total for renal cell carcinoma and renal pelvis carcinoma.
2Chow W-H, Dong LM, and Devesa SS: Epidemiology and risk factors for kidney cancer. Nature Reviews Urology 7(5):245-257, 2010.