Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the 13th most common cancer in the world and one of the few cancers for which incidence is increasing. This disease is generally asymptomatic at an early stage and is highly metastatic. Frequently discovered by physicians in the process of working up other diseases such as acute kidney injury, RCC is often discovered in an advanced form and many patients have metastases at the time of diagnosis. Given that life expectancy with currently approved therapies for metastatic RCC is approximately 1-2 years, biomarkers for RCC that will enable early detection are urgently needed. Although it is unlikely that highly sensitive and specific biomarkers will be identified in the near future that are useful for screening the general population, a noninvasive marker or set of markers could soon be used in general medicine, nephrology, and urology clinics to screen patients at increased risk of RCC. In addition to the ongoing need for RCC biomarkers, the frequent resistance reported with currently available targeted therapies makes the identification of new therapeutic targets similarly important. Many promising leads for new targeted therapies have come to light; some of these therapies are in clinical trials and others are still being evaluated in the laboratory.
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