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Kidney Cancer

Our Kidney Cancer Program launched a specialized program in 2013 to evaluate and manage individuals who may have kidney cancer perhaps caused by heredity or acquired genetic alterations. This program was specifically designed to assist the unmet needs of those patients with less common forms or unusual presentations of kidney cancer as well as to assist their community physicians who may be less familiar with genetic testing and the specifics of clinical management. Our comprehensive program is designed to evaluate and treat the following types of patients:

  • Patients with early onset kidney tumors (presenting at age 45 or less)
  • Patients with bilateral or multifocal kidney tumors
  • Patients with significant family history [one (1) relative, or two (2) relatives] with kidney tumors
  • Personal or family history of other cancers including tumors of the pancreas, uterus, thyroid, breast, brain/spine, adrenal gland, and melanoma
  • Associated dermatologic skin conditions with or without a family history of kidney cancer such as fibrofolliculomas, leiomyomas, angiofibromas, etc.

Clinical Program

The program contains a team of experts within Yale New Haven Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital focused on managing cancer patients. This includes clinicians in their field with a specific interest in treating hereditary cancer syndromes. As part of our program we have experienced genetic counselors, a clinical geneticist familiar with next generation testing, a molecular diagnostic team, and a partnership with the newly established Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program.

Besides performing genetic testing for known kidney cancer genes using in-house CLIA certified genetic labs, our team also is interested in novel gene discovery. By using next generating sequencing techniques, we expect to find new causes that contribute to familial cancer predisposition, some of them with therapeutic implications.

About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a malignancy of the kidneys. The main function of our kidneys is to produce urine, but by adjusting the composition of the urine, they also regulate electrolytes, bodily fluids, the body’s acid-base balance, and they eliminate waste products produced by the body.

The most common type of kidney cancer, making up about 90 percent of cases, is renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer. This type of cancer originates in the lining of the kidney tubules and generally grows as a single mass. Occasionally, more than one tumor may grow in a kidney or tumors may grow in both kidneys. There are five subtypes of RCC, which are classified according to their cellular shape: clear cell, papillary, chromophobe, collecting duct, and “unclassified.”

The remaining 10 percent of kidney tumors are made up of less common types, which include transitional cell carcinomas, Wilms’ tumors, and renal sarcomas. The Prostate and Urologic Cancers Program offers a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to treating urologic malignancies. With a diagnosis of kidney cancer, you and your family can feel confident in the knowledge and world-renowned expertise with our urologic oncology team.

Program Highlights

Our team’s expertise in the management of complex forms of kidney cancer has recently led to a special designation by the VHL Family Alliance as one of eight Comprehensive Clinical Care Centers for hereditary kidney cancer. This designation highlights our commitment and ability to manage highly complex kidney cancer conditions. The Program Director also serves as one of three members on the Kidney Cancer team for the NCI Physician’s Desk Query Cancer Genetics Editorial Board. This group continually updates NCI's website to provide the public with the latest management strategies for hereditary kidney cancer. Additionally our molecular diagnostics team developed CLIA certified methods for tumor characterization (PCR and FISH), specifically designed to identify acquired genetic events found in tumors in young adults. This ensures we will remain at the forefront in understanding and treating genetic causes of kidney cancer disease.

Contact Us

If you are interested in being evaluated by Yale’s Hereditary Kidney Cancer and Genetic Assessment Program or want to schedule an in-person or remote consultation, please call one of the following numbers:

  • For patients with a recent kidney cancer diagnosis (<1 year) or needing further kidney cancer treatment: 203-785-2815
  • For patients with concerning features for a Hereditary Kidney Cancer Syndrome or prior kidney cancer treatment (>1 year): 203-200-4DNA
  • For individuals who cannot visit in-person, including international patients, we are working towards a remote method for genetic testing and pathologic assessment. We hope to have this available in the future.