Enlargement of lymph nodes anywhere in the body. Lymph nodes are a part of your immune system. The most common cause of enlarged lymph nodes is infection, however they can also be a result of an autoimmune disorder or cancer. 

Adjuvant Therapy

Adjuvant therapy is systemic treatment (usually drug therapy) designed to reduce the risk of recurrence for patients who have no evidence of disease after primary treatment (usually surgery in kidney cancer). Adjuvant therapy is not commonly used in kidney cancer, however it is recommended for some high-risk patients. Learn more about adjuvant therapy for kidney cancer here

Angiomyolipoma (AML)

Angiomyolipomas (AML) are the most common benign tumor of the kidney. Although benign, angiomyolipomas do have a risk of bleeding. 



Not cancer.  Examples of benign renal masses include Oncocytoma and Angiomyolipoma. These masses are sometimes mistaken for kidney cancer. KCCure has a community for patients diagnosed with benign renal masses. 

Bert-Hogg-Dube Syndrome

A rare inherited condition in which benign tumors develop in hair follicles on the head, chest, back, and arms. This condition can also result in cysts in the lungs and an abnormal accumulation of air in the chest cavity (pneumothorax) that can lead to lung collapse. People who have Bert-Hogg-Dube syndrome are at increased risk of developing kidney cancer and benign kidney tumors.


Procedure where a tissue sample is removed from the body for testing, to make a diagnosis.  The sample may be taken by needle biopsy, or removed surgically.   The full removal of the tumor before diagnosis is called a resection biopsy.

Bone Scan

A technique used to create images of bones. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and it collects in the bones at any site of increased metabolic activity. These sites can represent injury, infection, inflammation (arthritis) or cancer.



Cancer is a collection of diseases where abnormal cells begin to grow in any part of the body.


A  plant family.  Some Cannabis products have been recognized to help with cancer symptoms. The American Cancer society notes studies so far have not proven that cannabis can cure or help control cancer in humans. At this time, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana and its cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances. This means that they cannot legally be prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law.


Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs, like the kidney or the liver.


CBD or cannabinoidiol is a compound found derived from the cannabis plant. CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body and brain. Cannabis is the only plant known to contain CBD.  CBD oils are oils that contain concentrations of CBD, with less than .03 THC.  The oil can be taken orally, used as a topical application, tincture (strong concentrated liquid instead of oil), sublingually (under the tongue), or as an inhalant.  It is not known to be addictive and is legal in all states when made from hemp.

Cytotoxic Chemotherapy (Chemo)

Treatment with drugs that kill cells or stop them from dividing. Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning that the drugs flow through the bloodstream to nearly every part of the body.  Most chemotherapy drugs also keep normal healthy cells from dividing and that is what causes some of the side effects. Cells that normally divide quickly include hair follicle, digestive tract and bone marrow cells.  

Cytotoxic chemotherapy is not FDA approved for kidney cancer and is rarely used to treat the disease. 

Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma (chRCC)

A rare subtype of renal cell carcinoma. This type accounts for only 5% of all kidney cancers. Chromophobe kidney cancer rarely spreads outside of the kidneys. Learn more about types of kidney cancer here.

Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (cRCC)

Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of RCC.  About 70 percent of patients with RCC will have this histology.  Because it’s more common, there is more knowledge and research about this subtype and doctors tend to have a better understanding about treating it. Learn more about types of kidney cancer here. 

Clinical Trial

A scientific study to evaluate in humans the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease.

Collecting Duct Carcinoma (CDC)

Collecting Duct Carcinoma (CDC) is also sometimes referred to as Bellini Duct Carcinoma.  CDC is a rare form of RCC accounting for less than 3 percent of cases. Collecting duct is an aggressive form of kidney cancer and because of its rarity, treatment options are more limited.  Learn more about types of kidney cancer here.

Complete blood count (CBC)

A test to check the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of blood.

Complete Response (complete remission)

The disappearance of all signs of cancer in response to treatment. This does not always mean cancer has been cured. 


Having to do with the opposite side of the body.


A compound that is excreted from the body in urine. Creatinine levels are measured to monitor kidney function.

CT (computed tomography) Scan

A CT scan creates a 3D image of bones, organs and soft tissues.  A CT uses more radiation than an x-ray, but provides more information.  A dye referred to as contrast may be used during a CT scan.   Contrast can be something the patient drinks prior to the scan, or introduced via an IV during. 

Also referred to as a CAT scan, computed tomography scan, computerized axial tomography scan, and computerized tomography.

Cryoblation (cryosurgery, cryotherapy)

A procedure in which tissue is frozen to destroy abnormal cells. This is usually done with a special instrument that contains liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. A kidney tumor can be treated by the positioning of the instrument by laparoscopy or sometimes with x-ray guidance.

Cyber Knife

Cyberknife is a device that treats cancer anywhere in the body with one to five focused radiation treatments.

It is different from Gamma Knife, which can treat brain or cervical cancer only, with a single dose radiation treatment.  Tumors must be less than 1 inch in diameter.




A medical specialist that diagnoses and treats thyroid and adrenal function



Gamma Knife

A system that can target brain or cervical spine cancer with single dose high dose radiation treatments.  Tumors must be less than 1 inch in diameter.  

It is different from Cyber Knife which can treat cancer anywhere in the body, in 1 to 5 radiation treatments.


Grade is a measure of how aggressive the cancer is based on how the cancer cells appear under a microscope.   Details on grade can be found here.


Hematologist / Hematologist Oncologist

A physician that diagnoses and treats blood related disorders and blood related cancers including anemia, hemophilia, leukemia, lymphoma and sickle-cell anemia.

Hospice Care

Often referred to as end of life care.  It is an option for patients with a terminal illness with less than six months to live if the disease progresses typically.   The care is focused on quality of life, and not treatment of the disease. 



Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. The immune system helps your body fight infections and other diseases. 

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy. Biological therapy is a type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer. 

Examples of immunotherapy used to treat kidney cancer include checkpoint inhibitors, such as Opdivo and Keytruda and cytokine treatments such as high dose IL-2.


I-O or IO, Immuno-Oncology, is the science of using immunotherapy drugs to strengthen a patients immune system to fight a disease such as cancer. IO drugs are regularly used to treatment kidney cancer. Read more about treatments used for advanced kidney cancer here.



Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the kidney.  Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common form of kidney cancer. Other, more rare types of kidney cancer include upper-tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) (sometimes referred to as transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), wilms tumor and sarcoma of the kidney. Within RCC, there are also additional subtypes. You can learn more here.



A procedure that uses a laparoscope to examine the organs inside the abdomen. Other tools are also passed through the abdominal wall to remove tissue (such as a kidney containing cancer) Laparoscopic surgery for kidney tumors, when possible, is less invasive than open surgery. 



The presence of cancer in the body.


Marijuana is made from the flower buds and leaves of the female Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica plants. Marijuana is the term for cannabis that contains .3% and more THC.  The THC in marijuana is responsible for creating the ‘high’ sensation

The American Cancer society notes studies so far have not proven that cannabis can cure or help control cancer in humans. At this time, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana and its cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances. This means that they cannot legally be prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law.

States vary on legality of medical and / or recreational use.

Metastatic (Metastasize)

The spread of a disease-producing agency (such as cancer cells) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

A type of scan that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body.  Often used when scanning the brain and spine or for organ specific disease in the liver or the kidney.



Pronounced N.E.D.  NED indicates that following testing a patient has no visible evidence of a disease, such as cancer.


A doctor that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases.  A nephrologist might be part of your treatment team if you have any issues with kidney function, diabetes, kidney stones or high blood pressure (hypertension).


A medical doctor that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of disorders with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord).  



Oncology is the study of cancer. An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care for a person diagnosed with cancer.


Palliative Care

Palliative Care is provided by a team of specialists to maintain quality of life for a patient with an illness.   The focus is on the symptoms of the illness and the treatment.   It is not the same as hospice care.   More information on Palliative Care can be found here.

Pathology Report

The description of cells and tissues made by a pathologist based on microscopic evidence, and sometimes used to make a diagnosis of a disease.

PET scan (positron emission tomography)

A PET scan is different from an MRI or CT, as it produces images showing areas of radioactivity in the body, as opposed to structure.  To accomplish this a form of radioactive sugar (a radiotracer) is taken via IV, or swallowed, prior to the PET scan.  As cancer cells can metabolize sugar faster than healthy cells, areas of the body with cancer cells show up as ‘hot spots’, or ‘light up’ on a PET scan. 



Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a procedure that can be used to destroy kidney tumors when surgery is not an option. RFA uses high-energy radio waves to heat the tumor. A thin, needle-like probe is placed through the skin and moved forward until the end is in the tumor. Once it is in place, an electric current is passed through the tip of the probe. This heats the tumor and destroys the cancer cells.

Major complications are uncommon, but they can include bleeding and damage to the kidneys or other nearby organs.



Cancer stage describes the tumor size and amount of spread from the primary location.  Different cancer are staged in different ways. Learn how kidney cancer is staged here.



A tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue that may be malignant (cancer) or not benign (not cancer).  Either may require treatment.


Ultrasound (Sonogram)

A type of scan that uses sound waves to create images.


A doctor that specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of diseases of the urinary tract in both men and women, and the reproductive tract in men. They also perform surgery.  A urologist can perform kidney surgery.  A urological oncologist is a surgeon that specializes in urological cancers.




X-Ray Scan

A form of radiation used as a diagnostic tool.  An x-ray machine uses low dose radiation  to produce images of structures inside the body.  The images produced are interpreted by a radiologist.





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