Understanding Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma, also known as hypernephroma or renal cell cancer, is the most common type of kidney cancer. While it is quite serious, early diagnosis and treatment makes treatment much easier and remission a possibility.

It typically begins as one tumor in one kidney, but there cases where there are multiple tumors in one kidney or in both.

Men are at a higher risk than women, and this type of cancer often gets diagnosed among individuals aged 50 to 70.

Renal Cell Carcinoma Causes

Even though what exactly causes the disease has not been pinpointed, there are numerous known risk factors that can increase one’s risk of getting kidney cancer. For instance, being overweight/obese, a smoker, prolonged use of pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin, exposure to toxic chemicals like herbicides and dyes can all increase the risk of renal cell carcinoma.

A family history of kidney cancer, kidney diseases, and certain hereditary conditions that are strongly linked with renal cell carcinoma such as von Hippel-Lindau disease can also increase the chances of developing kidney cancer.

Understanding Renal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Most types of kidney cancer do not cause any noticeable signs and symptoms in the early stages. However, as the tumor advances or spreads, some symptoms that may appear include blood in the urine, a lump in the abdomen or on the side, lower back pain, loss of appetite with unexplained weight loss, feeling fatigued, fever, hypertension, and anemia.

Treating Renal Cell Carcinoma

In most cases, the preferred approach to treatment is surgery, or nephrectomy to be exact, which entails the removal of a part of the entirety of a kidney along with surrounding tissue if required. You may need a partial, simple, or radical nephrectomy depending on the stage. If the tumor is not too large, a nephrectomy typically suffices, but in more advanced stages, combining surgery with other treatments may be needed.

There are also biologic drugs like interleukin-2 that work by bolstering your immune system response to cancerous cells. Targeted therapy may also be preferred, which work by targeting proteins and blood vessels that tumors need to thrive.

The course of treatment and its efficacy entirely depend on the specific case and whether the cancer has spread when you get a diagnosis. The survival rate is higher for kidney cancer when it is caught early and has not had time to spread to other organs and tissues in the body.

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