Reports of late NFL running back Ronnie Hillman's diagnosis of renal medullary carcinoma have put a spotlight on the rare but aggressive form of kidney cancer, per MM+M.
On Thursday (December 22), Hillman's family announced that the former Denver Broncos RB died after reports surfaced Wednesday (December 21) that he was in hospice care battling renal medullary carcinoma, which he was diagnosed with in August. It was only one day later (December 22) that Hillman's family confirmed his passing in a statement on social media.
Since the news of Hillman's diagnosis, many have asked, "what is renal medullary carcinoma?" The rare kidney cancer mainly affects young African Americans with sickle cell trait, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) reports.
In many cases, renal medullary carcinoma is found in patients only once it has spread to lymph nodes and other organs. Its most common symptoms include blood in the urine and pain over the kidney. According to NORD, the exact cause of the cancer is unknown, but it can be treated with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
Hillman's family said in a statement that the former Denver Broncos running back had been receiving treatments since his diagnosis, but efforts proved unsuccessful.
Renal medullary carcinoma typically holds an "extremely poor" prognosis, with the likelihood of survival averaging at less than a year, according to a 2014 study published in The Ochsner Journal.
The Denver Broncos posted a statement on Twitter in remembrance of their 2012 draft pick. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman," the Broncos said on Thursday (December 22). Soft-spoken with a warm smile and quiet intensity, Ronnie was drafted by the Broncos in 2012 and grew into a dynamic player and well-respected teammate."