What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer is a tumor that develops within the kidneys, which are two bean-shaped organs located in the back part of your abdomen that are responsible for filtering the blood and creating urine. Kidney cancer incidence has been in the increase and usually affects elderly men.
Kidney Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Usually, kidney cancer doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms during its early stages. Unfortunately, most cases show symptoms in the later stages, which sometimes may seem non-specific, including:
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Unspecific pain in your lower back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Intermittent fever
- Lump sensation in your back
Kidney Cancer Common Causes
Kidney cancer develops after cells in the kidneys start growing abnormally and suffer some mutations, which lead to tumor formations. There are some well-known risk factors related to this condition including:
- Suffering from high blood pressure
- Men have a higher risk
- Some chemical exposure like cadmium or specific herbicides
- Kidney cancer family history
Kidney Cancer Diagnosis
In case you show any of the above signs or symptoms and have some of the risk factors related to kidney cancer, your doctor might perform some of the following tests and procedures to make a proper diagnosis:
- Blood and urine tests.
- Kidney biopsy.
- Imaging tests. Including computerized tomography (CT) and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which might allow your doctor to visualize your kidney and the presence of any tumor or abnormality.
Kidney Cancer Treatment
Your kidney cancer treatment options depend on several factors, such as your tumor growth rate, the type of cancer you have, the presence of metastasis at the moment of diagnosis and the potential benefits or side effects of the available treatment options. Some of the options include:
Surgery is the main treatment for the majority of kidney cancers, the most important goal is removing the tumor and preserving the normal kidney function. There are two principal types of procedures that might be used depending on your type and stage of kidney cancer:
- Radical nephrectomy. This procedure involves removing entirely the affected kidney and, additionally, the nearby tissues such as the lymph nodes, adrenal gland or other structures. This technique is used in the case of advance or too big kidney cancer.
- Partial nephrectomy. Here, the surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it, rather than the entire kidney. This technique is used in case of smaller kidney cancer.
In case of inoperable and advanced kidney cancer, your doctor might recommend some other alternatives including immunotherapy. Unfortunately, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not very effective in cases of kidney cancer.
Biological therapy (immunotherapy) uses your body’s immune system to fight cancer.