- Among the types of kidney cancer, renal cell carcinoma is the most common.
- The most observed signs and symptoms of kidney cancer are pain on the side and lower back, abdominal mass, blood in the urine, and anemia.
- A CT scan is used to diagnose cancer of the kidneys, while treatment options include surgery, cryosurgery, and radiofrequency ablation.
The kidneys are located behind the abdominal organs. Their main functions are filtering impurities, removing excess minerals, salt, and water. The kidney is unable to do its role when it develops certain diseases like cancer. Cancer of the kidney has different types, but the most common among all is renal cell carcinoma. It is presumed that renal cell carcinoma starts from the tubules of the nephrons.
Kidney cancer is characterized by signs and symptoms that include:
- Flank pain
- Flank mass
- Loss of appetite
- High blood pressure
- Unintentional weight loss
These symptoms do not usually appear not until the disease is already in the advanced stage.
The exact reason why kidney cancer develops is unclear, but experts have identified several factors that put people at more risk of developing the disease. Among these are:
- A family history of kidney cancer or other genetic syndromes
- Over 40 years of age
- Being male
- Black and American Indian race
- Workplace exposure to chemicals
- Certain medications
Diagnosis and Staging
A physician diagnoses kidney cancer based on the patient’s physical symptoms, blood in the urine, and the development of anemia. Imaging tests are also conducted for further evaluation, which includes:
- Ultrasound. It is the first test done when doctors suspect that it is kidney cancer.
- CT scan. In CT scans, different series of X-rays are used to create a 3D image of the body. This test is vital in detecting and staging kidney cancer.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). It is used when a CT scan cannot be carried out. MRI helps detect a tumor in the veins near the kidneys.
- A bone scan or PET scan. It is used in determining to what extent have the tumor spread.
- Biopsy. This test allows a physician to detect the presence of cancer cells.
If cancer cells are detected in the kidneys, doctors then determine up to where it has spread. This process is called staging, and different tests are also conducted for this. The size of the tumor and the extent to where the cancer cells have spread will determine the stage.
Stage 1 – The cancer cells are within the cortex of the kidney.
Stage 2 – Larger in size cancer cells that are still in the kidney’s cortex.
Stage 3 – Cancer cells have reached the nearby blood vessels.
Stage 4 – The cancer cells have already reached the outer lining of the kidneys.
Choosing the effective treatment will depend on the stage of kidney cancer, location of cancer cells within the kidney, and the patient’s overall health condition.
The different treatment used are:
- Cryosurgery (tumor freezing)
- Radiofrequency ablation (tumor burning)
- Targeted therapy drugs – these are drugs that prevent and block the growth and spread of cancerous cells
- Immunotherapy or biologic therapy – the body’s immune system is stimulated to better fight off the cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy
Source: Very Well Health