Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that targets cells in the kidney, resulting in their abnormal growth and replication. While kidney cancer is typically detected before it spreads to other organs, the cancerous tumors can potentially become quite large, which is why early diagnosis is very crucial when it comes to kidney cancer. In particular, early symptoms of kidney cancer can be hard to detect.
There are numerous risk factors that can contribute to the development of kidney cancer. Old age increases the risk of kidney cancer, for instance, as well as a family history of kidney cancer, being a smoker, being obese, and having high blood pressure.
Understanding the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
While kidney cancer typically does not cause any symptoms in the early stages, in later stages, some symptoms that may appear include unexplained weight loss, dark urine (blood), tiredness, chronic back pain or pain on the side of the body, and fever.
While these symptoms may not always necessarily point to kidney cancer but can simply indicate an infection, it is still important to consult a doctor if you experience any of them. In case it is kidney cancer, early diagnosis can make treatment of kidney cancer much easier.
In diagnosing kidney cancer, doctors usually rely on a physical examination and look into the patient’s medical history for growths, fever, and hypertension. Your physician may also order blood tests and urine samples for further screening of kidney function.
For instance, if there is too much creatine in your bloodstream, this may point to an irregularity in kidney function. A CT scan or an MRI may also be helpful in diagnosing tumors in the kidneys.
Treating Kidney Cancer
Once you get an accurate kidney cancer diagnosis, your doctor devises an appropriate treatment plan to battle the cancerous cells. Some common treatment options depending on the case include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Some patients may receive a combination of treatments for extra measure.
Kidney cancer treatment mainly aims to eliminate cancer cells but also relieve symptoms associated with kidney cancer such as pain. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both common treatment options to remove tumors, but surgery may also be more commonly recommended to remove a part or the entirety of a kidney that is targeted by the cancer, which is an operation known as nephrectomy.
There are three types of nephrectomy: radical, simple, and partial. In a radical nephrectomy, the kidney and surrounding tissue are removed, as well as sometimes the lymph nodes. In a simple nephrectomy, only the kidney is removed. Finally, in a partial nephrectomy, only the tumor(s) along with the surrounding tissue is removed from the kidney.
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