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11

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017

1

Kidney cancer basics

How does kidney cancer start?

How does kidney cancer start?

Cancer is a disease of cells—the building blocks that

form tissue in the body. Inside all cells are coded

instructions for making new cells and controlling how

cells behave. These coded instructions are called

genes. Abnormal changes (mutations) in genes can

turn normal kidney cells into cancer cells.

Normal cells grow and divide to make new cells. New

cells are made as the body needs them to replace

injured or dying cells. When normal cells grow old

or get damaged, they die. Cancer cells don’t do this.

The changes in genes cause cancer cells to make

too many copies of themselves.

See Figure 4

.

Cancer cells make new cells that aren’t needed

and don’t die quickly when old or damaged. Over

time, cancer cells grow and divide enough to form

a mass called a tumor. The first tumor formed by

the overgrowth of cancer cells is called the primary

tumor.

Figure 4

Normal versus cancer cell

growth

Normal cells divide to make

new cells as the body needs

them. Normal cells die once

they get old or damaged.

Cancer cells make new cells

that aren’t needed and don’t die

quickly when old or damaged.

Healthy cell

Injured cell

Cell death

Normal cell growth

No cell death

Uncontrolled cell growth

Cancer cell growth

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