kidney cancer

Kidney cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Dr. Sudarsan De
27 Oct 2018
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Kidney Cancer occurs when cells in the kidney starts growing at an abnormal rate. Kidney Cancer, also known as renal carcinoma, accounts for 2-3% of cancer cases among adults. Find out more about causes, risks, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments available for kidney cancer.

Men are more likely to get affected with it as compared to women. As the name suggests, kidney cancer mainly affects the kidneys and leads to the uncontrolled growth of cells. The main function of kidney is to flush urine as well as waste products out of the body. Kidney cancer is curable if it diagnosed during the early stages, saving life of the patient. In this article, you will get to know different aspects of kidney cancer including causes, symptoms, risk factors and proven treatment solutions for patients in different stages of the cancer.

kidney cancer

Causes and Risk Factors

It is important to know the cause of a major disorder for treating it successfully. Before proceeding with treatment of cancer, it is important to know the causes of cancer and make sure that right steps are taken in the initial stage itself. The causes of kidney cancer are not very evident but there are several risk factors, which can lead to it.

Various risk factors can pave way for cancer to develop in kidneys. The risk of developing kidney cancer increases manifold when a family member is diagnosed with kidney cancer.

This cancerous condition needs to be dealt properly to receive the required medical treatment results. Smoking is injurious to health and one has to be careful regarding this habit. In the similar way, carcinogens present in our environment affect our body in a negative manner. Many individuals consume painkillers on a regular basis. These individuals are at increased chances in attracting kidney cancer.

Men who have crossed the age of 40 are more likely to get affected with this medical problem as compared to women. These days there is rise in people suffering from obesity. Obesity is a risky condition and can contribute in the cancerous growth in kidneys. In addition, individuals who suffer from hypertension are at high risk of being affected with kidney cancer. Patients who are already undergoing dialysis are also vulnerable. Some of the rare cases, which lead to kidney cancer, include :

  • Renal Sarcoma
  • Wilm’s Tumor
  • Familial Renal Cancer
  • Medullary and Chromophobe carcinoma
  • Collecting duct Carcinoma

These are some other risk factors for kidney cancer :

  • If you smoke cigarettes, your risk for kidney cancer is twice that of nonsmokers. 
  • Being a male: Men are about twice as likely as women to get kidney cancer.
  • Being obese: Extra weight may cause changes to hormones that increase your risk.
  • Extended use of certain pain medications: This includes over-the-counter drugs in addition to prescription drugs.
  • Having advanced kidney disease or being on long-term dialysis, a treatment for people with kidneys that have stopped working.
  • Having certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease or inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma.
  • Having a family history of kidney cancer: The risk is especially high in siblings.
  • Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, cadmium, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides.


stages of kidney cancer

Symptoms

Kidney Cancer does not show any unique symptoms based on which early treatment can be effectively started. Therefore, you cannot expect the tumor present in kidney to be a proven sign of cancer in the beginning stages itself. Still there are certain common symptoms, which need to be kept in mind while finding out positive presence of kidney cancer. Presence of blood in the urine, which can be pink, light red or dark red color, is one of the prime symptoms of kidney cancer. Some of the patients who have chances of kidney cancer will have pain in their back or in the sides that stays for long and many a time, the pain does not subside on its own.

These symptoms are combined with unexplained weight loss, sudden evidence of fever as well as tiredness. Therefore, you need to keep in mind that when you find presence of these signs and symptoms in your body for more than a week, then you should not procrastinate in taking an appointment with your doctor. 

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Kidney Cancer is performed with the aid of basic as well as advanced medical tests. These different types of tests provide excellent results to the patients who doubt presence of kidney cancer in their bodies. The basic tests, which are performed at the time of diagnosis of kidney cancer, involve blood and urine tests. This helps the doctor to find out the reasons due to which there are certain changes going on in the body. The health care professional will make sure that you do not delay the tests, as detecting the kidney cancer at an early stage helps in saving the organ as well as life.

After the blood tests, imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as well as Computerized Tomography (CT) scan are performed from time to time which help in providing finest results about the condition of the patient. 

Biopsy of kidney is a medical procedure, which is performed once all the above tests are completed and results indicate towards a positive presence of kidney cancer. Here, a sample tissue is taken from kidney and analyzed in detail to confirm the presence of cancer. If the results are positive, then kidney cancer treatment is started as early as possible. 
Along with these tests, history of past medications and treatments also prove to be helpful for diagnosing the presence of cancer, thus leading to successful treatment.
 

Treatment Options

Kidney Cancer treatment needs to be treated with proper plans so that a patient can receive right results that can save his life. The treatment of kidney cancer is divided into surgical and non-surgical types based on the stage and severity of the cancer.

  • Surgical : Surgical treatment is recommended for kidney cancer in case the patient is at the later stages. Radical nephrectomy and partial nephrectomy surgeries are the most commonly performed surgeries in the modern times for the treatment of kidney cancer. In complete or radical nephrectomy, the affected part is entirely removed along with some of the surrounding structures such as lymph nodes only if required. Partial Nephrectomy procedure is advised for the patient if it is in the initial stages and needs to be operated for removal of the affected area. This procedure can be performed with laparoscopy or even with robotic technology assistance.

robotic surgery

  • Non-surgical : Non-surgical treatments are advised in case of the patients who are in earlier stages of kidney cancer. This includes Cryoablation and Radiofrequency ablation procedures. Cryoablation is the technique in which tumor cells of kidney are frozen with the help of the advanced technology. In case of Radiofrequency ablation, the cells of kidneys, which are affected with cancer, are heated and burnt. Here, a needle is inserted into the patient’s body and then the affected cells are burnt with electric currents that are passed through the needle in the patient’s body from time to time. This leads to the successful cure of the kidney cancer, thus leading to the healing of the cancerous conditions in the patient.

Thus, it is important that patients consult a good physician, followed by a cancer specialist for successful completion of the treatment and healing of the cancerous condition. Patients need to keep in mind that along with the treatments, they also need to follow right lifestyle to gain benefits from the treatment process. 

For more updates, follow Elacancer blog and in case you are looking for expert guidance and support for any kind of cancer treatment, feel free to call at+91-8929020600


Dr. Sudarsan De

About the Author

Radiation Oncologist
Dr. Sudarsan De is a Radiation Oncologist & Cancer Specialist at Jaypee Hospital in Sector 128, Noida. As a Radiation Oncologist, his area of expertise includes Radiotherapy of Brain, Head and Neck Cancer, Genitourinary Cancer, Radiation Oncology, IMRT, 4D Gated RT, 3DCRT, Brachytherapy and Hypo Fractionation. Dr. Sudarsan De has completed his education mainly from Kolkata. He did his MBBS from NRSIRCAR Medical College, Kolkata in 1979 and MD (Radiotherapy) from AIIMS, Delhi in 1984. Dr. Sudarsan De has also been the member of Association of Radiation Oncologist of India, Indian Society of Oncology, European Society of Gynae Oncology, European Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology and American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology.
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