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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