Kidney cancer cases have soared by one third over the past decade - with the disease now claiming 4,200 lives in the UK each year.

Since the early 2000s annual incidence of the disease has risen from nine to 12 per 100,000 people, according to new figures from Cancer Research UK

As a result experts are calling for greater awareness, treatments and research. Obesity, smoking and better diagnostic techniques are all said to have contributed to the increase.

Kidney cancer is the eighth most common form of the disease in the UK and causes 4,200 deaths each year.

Professor Tim Eisen, a Cancer Research UK clinician based at the Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, said: "These figures show a worrying rise in kidney cancer in the last decade and emphasise how crucial more research into better treatments for kidney cancer is.

"To address the growing problem we're running several trials to make sure these kidney cancer patients have the best possible treatment options. But as well as finding better treatments, more needs to be done to catch this cancer as early as possible.

"Half of the patients we see are diagnosed incidentally when they have come in for other health problems. The best possible chance of survival comes from being aware of the potential symptoms, such as blood in the urine, and getting this checked out by your GP."

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Nilesh Jhala, a 50 year old sales representative from Luton, started noticing a cough in September of 2010 that wasn’t clearing. He went to see a GP and was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March 2011.

“That cough was a blessing. It prompted the checkups that found the cancer. I’d also had night sweats and noticed my urine was darker, but had not thought for one minute that they were signs of cancer.

“A CT scan found a cyst on my kidney that must have been there for about four to five years – and the doctors might have missed it if it wasn’t for the persistent cough. Three weeks later I had my kidney removed. 

“Since then I have been on a three year Cancer Research UK sponsored trial to see if a drug, taken after surgery, can help to stop or delay kidney cancer coming back. Today I am feeling great and am very positive about the future for myself and my family.”

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical trials, said: “This increase in kidney cancers highlights how important it is to tackle this disease. We must continue to encourage people to be aware of the risk factors and to quit smoking in particular. Cancer Research UK is funding a range of trials to develop new treatments and improve existing ones for the disease.”