HomeHealth articlescancerWhat Is Renal Sarcoma?

Renal Sarcoma - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Renal sarcoma is a rare soft tissue cancer of the kidneys. Various risk factors are associated with the condition. The article explains sarcoma in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Yash Kathuria

Published At March 1, 2023
Reviewed AtDecember 4, 2023


The kidneys are two small bean-shaped organs on either side of the spine. They are roughly the size of a fist. The kidneys help filter blood and remove excess water and waste from the blood. In addition, the kidneys produce a hormone that helps make red blood cells, control blood pressure and regulate calcium metabolism. At times, the kidney cells or nephrons start growing rapidly and abnormally. This abnormal growth or tumor could be harmless (benign) or cancerous (malignant). There are different types of kidney cancers, most common is renal cell carcinoma which is around eighty-five percent of all kidney cancers. Renal sarcoma is rare cancer that develops in the soft tissues of the kidney, the thin layer of tissue surrounding the kidneys, or the fatty tissue around the kidneys.

What Causes Renal Sarcoma?

Renal sarcoma is caused due to alterations in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). This molecule carries all the genetic information within it, which is required for the development and functioning of an organism. These alterations are known as mutations. The DNA mutations that lead to the growth of cancer hamper the function of the genes responsible for normal cell division and the tumor suppressor genes that control cell division.

What Are the Symptoms of Renal Sarcoma?

There are no specific symptoms of renal sarcoma during the early stages. It is only when the tumor grows that the following symptoms start showing:

  • Hematuria where blood is present in the urine.

  • Pain in the lower back region on one side.

  • A lump of tissue on the lower part of the back or side.

  • Unexplained loss of weight.

  • Reduced appetite.

  • Tiredness.

  • Fever of unknown origin.

  • Anemia (low red blood cells in the body).

  • Increase in blood pressure.

  • Increased sweating while asleep.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Renal Sarcoma?

There are several risk factors associated with renal sarcoma. The prevalence of a few risk factors does not make one likely to develop the malignancy. Certain factors, such as the family history of cancer, are beyond anyone's control. The factors that increase the risk of developing renal sarcoma are:

1. Smoking- Smoking increases the chances of developing cancerous cells.

2. Race- People of African origin are likely to develop cancer compared to other races.

3. Age- Renal sarcoma is usually diagnosed in elders within the age group of fifty to seventy years.

4. High Blood Pressure- Medications that are taken to manage high blood pressure increase the risk of developing cancer.

5. Obesity- Obesity due to alterations in some hormones may lead to renal sarcoma.

6. Family History- A positive family history of kidney cancer increases cancer risk.

7. Gender- Men are more likely to develop kidney cancer than females.

8. Exposure to Carcinogens- Carcinogens are cancer-causing substances. Exposure to substances containing cadmium makes one susceptible to kidney cancer.

9. Medications- Overusing certain medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen makes one susceptible to developing kidney cancer.

10. Kidney Disease- Chronic kidney disease and reduced kidney function increase the risk of kidney cancer in specific individuals.

11. Dialysis- Long-term ongoing dialysis poses a risk for the individual of developing kidney cancer.

12. Hereditary Risk Factors- Some genetic conditions might increase kidney cancer risk. The conditions include the following:

  • Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) Syndrome- It is a genetic condition where the tumor develops in the brain, spinal cord, kidneys, eyes, pancreas, and adrenal glands.

  • Hereditary Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma (HPRCC)- It is a genetic condition that causes a papillary type of renal cell carcinoma.

  • Birt-Hogg Dube' (BHD) Syndrome- It is a rare disorder affecting the skin and lungs and increases the risk of developing tumors in other body parts, including the kidneys.

  • Hereditary Leiomyomatosis and Renal Cell Carcinoma (HLRCC)- It is a genetic disorder that causes the development of benign tumors in the muscles of the skin, uterus, and kidneys.

  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TCS) Syndrome- It is a rare condition involving many organs causing benign tumors in the brain, kidney, heart, lungs, skin, etc.

  • BAP1 Tumor predisposition Syndrome (BAP1 TPS)- This is an inherited disorder that increases the risk of developing cancerous and non-cancerous tumors in various body parts.

  • Cowden Syndrome- It is a rare inherited disorder that involves the development of many non-cancerous growths known as hamartoma in various body parts.

  • Radiation- Exposure to radiation if one has undergone radiation therapy as a treatment for specific cancer might increase the risk of developing renal sarcoma.

  • Family Cancer Syndromes- Certain disorders caused by inherited genetic alterations increase the risk of developing renal sarcoma.

  • Neurofibromatosis (Von Recklinghausen Disease)- A hereditary condition that leads to the formation of tumors in the nerves.

  • Gardner Syndrome- It is a rare genetic disease that causes the formation of polyps or growth in the colon.

  • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome- This inherited condition increases the risk of developing breast cancer, leukemia or white blood cell cancer, brain tumors, and sarcomas.

  • Retinoblastoma- It is an eye cancer caused by genetic inheritance, which increases the risk of developing sarcomas.

  • Werner Syndrome- It is a condition characterized by cataracts, heart problems, and an increased risk of developing sarcomas and other types of cancers.

  • Gorlin Syndrome- It is a condition that increases the risk of developing skin cell cancer and sarcoma.

  • Tuberous Sclerosis- It is a condition that causes genetic defects resulting in kidney problems and the growth of tumors.

How Is Renal Sarcoma Diagnosed?

Renal sarcoma is diagnosed based on symptoms, age, and history. However, there are no tests for sarcoma screening; the diagnosis is made by the examination conducted by the doctor along with specific imaging tests. The techniques include-

  • X-Ray- X-rays use radiation to form images of the kidneys and other associated structures.

  • Ultrasound- Ultrasound involves using sound waves to make images of the organs and the areas under the skin where lumps might be present.

  • Computed tomography (CT) Scan- This imaging technique prepares three-dimensional images of the organs to examine the size and location of the tumor.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan- Magnetic resonance is used to obtain tumor images in this procedure.

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan- This procedure is carried out with a CT scan. Radioactive substances are injected into the body, and comprehensive images of the internal structures are obtained.

  • Kidney Biopsy- It is a procedure in which a small amount of diseased tissue is removed from the diseased organ and evaluated under a microscope.

How Is Renal Sarcoma Treated?

  • Surgery- The most common treatment plan for renal sarcoma is the surgical removal of the soft tissue tumor.

  • Ablation- This technique uses very cold or radio waves to kill cancerous cells.

  • Biological Therapies- These therapies use the body's immune system to destroy cancer.

  • Chemotherapy- It is a treatment that is carried out with the help of drugs. These drugs are injected into the individual's body via the mouth or intravenously, killing the fast-growing abnormal cancer cells.

  • Nephrectomy- This is the removal of either a part or one whole kidney.


Renal sarcoma is a rare kidney cancer of the soft tissue surrounding the kidneys. It is generally asymptomatic during the earlier stage but becomes symptomatic as the disease progresses. Various risk factors are associated with sarcoma. Physicians use different imaging techniques to diagnose cancer. Treatment involves procedures such as surgery, chemotherapy, and the like. The treatments are most effective if the sarcoma is diagnosed early. So, one should do regular health check-ups to maintain a healthy body.

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Dr. Yash Kathuria
Dr. Yash Kathuria

Family Physician


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