What Is a Renal Pelvis Tumor?

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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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A renal pelvis tumor is a tumor that develops in the renal pelvis area of the kidneys. This is the area in the anterior section of the kidney where several calyces converge, and serves as a type of funneling system for the urine produced by the kidneys. It is an area that may be affected by several different kinds of kidney cancer.

The growth of a renal pelvis tumor is not common. Such tumors may be cancer, but this type of cancer is relatively rare and accounts for only a small percentage, about five to 10%, of all cases of kidney cancer. Most kidney cancers are found in other areas of the kidney, and 90% of such tumors are typically transitional cell cancer.

Treatment for a renal pelvis tumor depends on the exact location of the tumor as well as its size and aggressiveness. In most cases either the tumor itself or the entire kidney will be removed. Subsequent treatment depends on many variables, but often includes chemotherapy and may include radiation treatments as well.


There are no known causes specifically related to the onset of a renal pelvis tumor, but some risk factors have been identified. Obesity is known to significantly increase a person’s risk of getting this type of tumor as well as other kidney cancers. Smoking creates a similar type of risk, and both older people and men have this cancer more often than do others. People with a family history of kidney cancer are at significantly increased risk for developing it themselves and should watch carefully for possible symptoms.

In the early stages, detecting a renal pelvis tumor can be very difficult, since there may not be any obvious signs of a problem. As the tumor grows, symptoms may include blood in the urine and persistent back pain. Unexplained weight loss is also a signal of a serious problem. A fever that comes and goes can indicate kidney cancer as well, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue may also alert a physician to the presence of a renal pelvis tumor.

Tests to diagnose a renal pelvis tumor will almost always start with a complete blood and urine screening. Any irregularities can signal the next step which is typically some form of imaging such as ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Depending on the doctor’s preference, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used. In some cases a kidney biopsy is done, but as this can often produce inaccurate results, a biopsy is uncommon when diagnosing kidney cancer.


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