Kidney Cancer

Introduction
Also known as renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer affects the blood and urine filtration system located in your two kidneys. 9 out of 10 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed as renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Kidney cancer begins small and grows larger over time, usually as a single mass or tumor inside the kidney.

Symptoms
Symptoms vary in different patients, but many patients will experience one or more of the following…

  • Blood in the urine
  • Abdominal mass
  • Back or flank pain
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia (low blood counts)
  • Tumor calcification (via x-ray)
  • Fever
  • High calcium in blood
  • High blood counts

 

Diagnosis
If you have symptoms that might suggest kidney cancer, your doctor will perform a detailed history and physical exam. Urine and blood tests will also be performed to check for signs of disease and unwanted substances.

Other tests may include:
Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
CT scan (CAT scan)
Ultrasound
Biopsy

Treatment
There are many options for kidney cancer treatment. Surgery is the most commonly performed treatment, treating the cancer in the area close to the tumor.

Sometimes an operation to remove the kidney is needed, called a nephrectomy. Your doctor will be able to provide more information about which operation would be the most suitable.

Another form of treatment is arterial embolization, a therapy that shrinks the tumor. Arterial embolization is used to help relieve the symptoms of kidney cancer, and sometimes performed on a patient prior to surgery.

Other various treatments include biological therapy and chemotherapy.

Prognosis
The prognosis for patients with kidney cancer varies depending on the treatment, diagnosis, and severity of the cancer. Prognosis is usually very good following surgery, especially when the tumor has not spread. Prognosis for kidney cancer patients is usually directly related to the tumor size and growth rate and the tumor’s cell structure. If the tumor has spread to other parts of the body, the prognosis is much poorer.

Resources
Kidney Cancer Association
National Cancer Institute – Kidney Cancer
American Cancer Society – Kidney Cancer