Understanding Renal Cell Carcinoma

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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Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, starts in the kidneys, the bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen. In most cases, it is diagnosed early before the tumors spread to other parts of the body, which makes the treatment of this type of cancer much easier.

What Causes Kidney Cancer?

Though the exact causes are unknown, there are numerous risk factors associated with the development of kidney cancer. Some of these risk factors include certain hereditary conditions such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, a family history and diseases, obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

People with kidney cancer do not typically exhibit any symptoms in the early stages until their tumors become larger in later stages. Some common symptoms are bloody urine, a lump in the lower back or the side, lower back pain, fever, fatigue, appetite loss, unexplained weight loss, and anemia.

While these symptoms may also point to a urinary tract infection or another condition, it is important to consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

There are numerous tests that doctors can rely on to conclusively diagnose patients. A physical examination may be the first step as doctors can feel whether there is a lump on your side or in your abdomen.

Doctors can also check for other symptoms such as fever and blood pressure levels as well as take a look at your medical history and family history of kidney disease. If your doctor believes you may have kidney cancer based on your symptoms and the preliminary examination, there are more tests that can be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs are often used to detect tumors in the kidney. In many cases, people get a kidney cancer diagnosis when they get imaging tests done to look for another disease, which is why this type of cancer is often caught early.

Once it is positive that you have kidney cancer, you are typically referred to an oncologist for treatment whose approach entirely depends on the stage of the cancer. Some common treatment options include nephrectomy (partial or complete removal of the kidney), radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

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How Is Kidney Cancer Treated?

How Is Kidney Cancer Treated

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen that filter waste from the blood, stabilize bodily fluids, produce urine, and more. Though there are different types of kidney cancer, the type that adults most commonly get diagnosed with is renal cell carcinoma. So how is kidney cancer treated?

Most individuals do not exhibit any signs and symptoms of kidney cancer in early stages, but kidney cancer is often caught early and highly treatable. In many cases, kidney cancer is detected with imaging tests such as CT scans while looking for another condition, which is why it often gets diagnosed before it gets a chance to spread to other body parts.

Understanding the Symptoms and Treatments for Kidney Cancer

The kidneys can almost completely stop functioning properly and result in no clear symptoms until there is severe damage, which can also be caused by kidney cancer. In most cases, most individuals do not exhibit any signs and symptoms in the early stages of kidney cancer, but if their tumor(s) is large and as it gets larger, symptoms begin to show such as:

  • Pain and lumps on the side or in the abdomen
  • Dark/pink urine due to blood
  • Appetite loss and unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and fever
  • Swelling of the lower limbs

Furthermore, symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing with blood, and joint pain may mean that the cancer has spread to other organs.

When caught early, surgery is typically the preferred treatment option to remove the cancerous cells from the kidneys such as a simple, radical, or partial nephrectomy. Radical nephrectomy is the most standard surgery type that is performed to remove the kidney and adrenal gland along with the tissue surrounding the kidney.

Simple nephrectomy refers to the removal of only the kidney. Partial nephrectomy is performed to remove some surrounding tissue along with the kidney. In cases where the cancer has spread to other organs, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be required in tandem with surgery.

In cases where surgery is not a viable option, some other treatment approaches depending on the case and stage are radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, arterial embolization, and targeted therapy.

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Stages of Kidney Cancer

Stages of Kidney Cancer

Renal cancer, also known as kidney cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. The stages of kidney cancer are similar to other forms of cancer, depending on how advanced the condition has become and how large the tumors are.

Staging kidney cancer is important because the stage of the cancer determines the appropriate treatment. The letters that make up the system used to stage kidney cancer are TNM.

What Are The T Stages?

The T portion is for the identification of the tumor size and whether it has spread to surrounding tissues.

Stage T0

No tumor present in the kidney.

Stage T1

A tumor smaller than 7 cm is present, confined to the kidney. There are two classes of T1 tumors. T1a is used to categorize a tumor that is smaller than 4 cm, whereas T1b is used to categorize one that is 4-7 cm.

Stage T2

T2 is used to refer to a tumor that is larger than 7 cm but is still only confined to the kidney. T2 also has two subclasses: T2a is 7-10 cm, but T2b is larger than 10 cm.

Stage T3

T3 means the tumor has spread to the tissue surrounding the kidney and the main artery but not the adrenal gland. T3a is used to categorize a tumor that is spreading to a major vein or surrounding tissue of the kidney. T3b is used to refer to a tumor that is spreading to a major vein that moves into the heart. T3c is used to refer to a tumor that is spreading to the portion of the vena cava situated in the chest.

Stage T4

T4 means that the cancerous cells have spread to distant organs and tissues in the body.

What Are the N Stages?

The N identification is reserved for tumors that have spread to lymph nodes. There are three primary stages of kidney cancer in the lymph nodes, which are N0, N1, and N2.

N0 means that the cancer has not grown into any lymph nodes, whereas N1 means one close-by lymph node has been targeted by the tumor. N2 is the stage where the tumor has spread to multiple lymph nodes.

What Are the M Stages?

The M identification is for the staging of metastases, which identifies whether the cancer has spread to other organs in the body such as the liver, lungs, and brain. There are only two M stages, which are M0 and M1. M0 means that the tumor has not spread while M1 means the cancer has metastasized and is in an advanced stage.

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Kidney Cancer Signs and Detection

Kidney Cancer Signs

Kidney cancer starts in the kidneys and can be life-threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body just like most types of cancer. In most cases, people do not exhibit any kidney cancer signs and symptoms in early stages if their tumors are not large.

Kidney Cancer Signs and Symptoms

In later stages and cases where there are large tumors, some common kidney cancer signs and symptoms that may appear are the presence of blood in the urine, pain in the lower back, lumps on the back or sides, appetite loss, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

While these symptoms may point to kidney cancer or another type of cancer, they may also indicate the presence of another condition. For instance, bloody urine can be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Nonetheless, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Kidney Cancer Early Detection

In many cases, kidney cancers are diagnosed early when they have not spread to any other tissues and organs in the body. However, some kidney cancers are detected in later stages as some tumors can become large without causing any symptoms. Furthermore, it is impossible to detect tumors in the kidneys with a physical examination, and there aren’t any tests in use for those who are not at a high risk of developing kidney cancer.

There are tests that can detect kidney tumors early such as routine urine tests, CT scans, and MRIs, but they are not necessarily recommended for those who are not at high risk. Urine tests can look for the presence of blood in the urine, but there are numerous conditions that can cause blood in the urine.

CT scans and MRIs can also detect cancers in the kidney but they are costly. In many cases, kidney cancers are diagnosed by chance at an early stage with a CT scan or MRI, which is ordered to look for an entirely different condition.

Those who are at an increased risk of getting kidney cancer have a different case, however. People who have a family history of kidney cancer or certain hereditary diseases that are associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer like von Hippel-Lindau disease should get screened with imaging tests for kidney cancer on the regular.

Individuals who have had prolonged dialysis treatment for a kidney disease or failure are also at a higher risk of kidney cancer and are recommended to get regularly screened for kidney cancer.

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Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

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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What Risk Factors Are Associated with Kidney Cancer?

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a serious and potentially deadly disease that affects the kidneys’ function to flush out harmful substances from the bloodstream.  The incidence rate has been on an increase but knowing the risk factors associated with the condition can lower the risk of developing cancer as well as contribute to an early diagnosis and treatment.

The Role of the Kidneys

The kidneys are two fist-sized organs in the shape of beans located behind the abdomen. While the kidneys are not substantial in size, their responsibility in the body is of great importance as they eliminate waste from the body. While there are some less common forms of kidney cancer, the most common type among adults is renal cell carcinoma.

Understanding Kidney Cancer Risk Factors

Kidney cancer is associated with numerous risk factors that can increase the likelihood of one developing cancerous cells in their kidneys. Some of these factors are:

  • Getting older increases the risk of developing the disease.
  • Smoking is linked with a greater risk.
  • Obesity and high blood pressure put one at an increased risk.
  • A family history of kidney cancer increases your risk.
  • Long-term dialysis treatment for kidney failure can increase your risk as well.

It is important for the elderly and those who are at risk to maintain ideal overall health and to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms such as dark urine, back pain, fatigue, and fever. Early diagnosis is vital to effective treatment when it comes to kidney cancer.

Lifestyle modifications are also imperative such as giving up smoking if you are a smoker. Since being overweight and having high blood pressure can also contribute to your risk, it is also important to exercise regularly and adopt healthy dietary habits to maintain a healthy weight and keep your blood pressure under control.

If you believe you are at a risk of kidney cancer or have symptoms, it is important to take action and consult a doctor as soon as possible for an early diagnosis as it can make your treatment much easier.

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An Overview of Kidney Cancer Symptoms and Causes

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

Kidney cancer develops in the kidneys; the pair of organs located in the back of abdominal organs. While there are rare types of kidney cancer, the most common type of kidney cancer in adults is known as renal cell carcinoma, making up around 90% of all diagnoses. Kidney cancer symptoms are important warning signs not to be ignored.

Wilms’ tumor, on the other hand, is a type of kidney cancer more common in children. The incidence rate of kidney cancer is on the rise, which has been associated with an increasing use of imaging tests like CT scans.

In most cases, these imaging tests result in the unintended detection of cancerous kidney tumors, so kidney cancer is often diagnosed early when the cancerous cells have not spread to other organs, which makes the treatment easier.

Understanding Kidney Cancer Symptoms

People with kidney cancer typically do not exhibit any signs and symptoms in the initial stages of the disease. Furthermore, without any symptoms, there aren’t any routine screenings for kidney cancer detection without the presence of symptoms.

However, the kidney cancer symptoms that may appear in later stages are bloody urine, back pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and an on-and-off fever.

What Causes Kidney Cancer?

While the exact cause of kidney cancer is not entirely understood, there are numerous risk factors associated with the occurrence of kidney cancer. Experts understand that kidney cancer forms due to mutations in kidney cells that cause them to replicate abnormally fast.

These cells can also break free and spread to other organs in the body. Here are the risk factors associated with the development of kidney cancer:

  • Age: Old age puts one at a higher risk of kidney cancer.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Hypertension: Having high blood pressure is associated with a greater risk of kidney cancer.
  • Being overweight/obese: Obesity increases the risk of kidney cancer as well.
  • Kidney failure treatment: Prolonged dialysis used to treat kidney failure increases the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Hereditary conditions: Some hereditary conditions such as Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome, von Hippel-Lindau disease, or hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma can also put one at a greater risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Genetics: Having a family history of kidney cancer increases the risk of kidney cancer.

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