Cancer is becoming the most common reason for death among humans. With constant changes in our lifestyles, various types of cancer are becoming more common. One such common form of cancer is kidney cancer, which can lead to severe outcomes if not treated properly.
To learn more about this deadly disease, read this post till the end. Here, you will learn about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of this form of cancer.
What Is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer, as the name suggests, is a form of cancer that affects the kidneys. Here, due to various reasons, a tumor develops in your kidneys, severely affecting their functioning. This can lead to death if not treated properly and early on in its development.
Stages Of Kidney Cancer
Just like all forms of cancer, various stages of kidney cancer explain the severity of this disease.
In this stage, the kidney tumor is 7 cm in size. Here, the tumor has not spread to any other parts of the body and is confined to only your kidney.
In this stage, the kidney tumor increases in size. However, it remains confined to your kidney without spreading to other body parts.
In this third stage, the size of the kidney remains more or less the same. However, it starts spreading to the kidney’s blood vessels – the inferior vena cava and the renal vein. In addition, it might spread to nearby lymph nodes as well.
In the final stage, the tumor has engulfed the nearby adrenal gland and most lymph nodes surrounding the kidney. This can also lead to lymphoma as well.
Types Of Kidney Cancer
The primary types of this form of cancer are:
1. Renal Cell Carcinoma
Also known as RCC, this is the most commonly identified form of kidney cancer, occurring in 85% of all such cases.
Here, the tubules of your kidney become inflamed, leading to the formation of cancerous tumors. This can happen in only one kidney or both.
2. Renal Sarcoma
Similar to RCC, your kidney’s connective tissues become inflamed, which soon starts spreading to other nearby organs and developing tumors. This happens very rarely, reported to have occurred in only 1% of all cancerous kidney cases.
3. Transitional Cell Cancer
6% to 7% of all kidney cancer cases have been identified as transitional cell cancer. Here, the connecting area between your kidney and ureter (renal pelvis) develops blockages that lead to the formation of tumors. This can also occur on the connecting tract between your kidney and your bladder as well.
4. Wilms Tumor
An infrequent occurrence, this type of cancer develops in children at a very early age. This accounts for 5% of all such cancerous kidney cases.
Kidney Cancer Symptoms
The primary symptoms of kidney cancer are:
- Hematuria (bloody urine)
- Rear abdominal pain
- Constant fatigue
- Appetite loss
- Sudden loss of weight
- High fever
- Body pain and aches
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Swelling near your kidney
Causes Of Kidney Cancer
The primary signs of kidney cancer can be caused due to:
Smoking is said to be one of the leading causes of kidney cancer. This is because there are many carcinogens present in tobacco that directly affect your kidneys.
High blood pressure is frequently regarded as a common cause of kidney cancer. Due to higher blood pressure, the blood vessels in your kidneys become inflamed, leading to cancer along with other biological reasons as well.
It has been implied that cancer is often genetic. Therefore, if your parents or close relatives happen to have cancer, then there’s a possibility that you might develop some forms of cancer as well.
Obesity has been linked with kidney cancer numerous times. The main reason behind this is the development of fatty tissues around the kidney. This layer of fat slows down the functions of the kidney, which over time, can lead to cancer.
5. Dialysis Treatment
Dialysis treatment is the procedure of removing waste from blood if one’s kidneys fail to do so correctly. However, it has been observed that long-term dialysis can lead to the formation of tumors in the kidney, causing cancer.
6. Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
Tuberous sclerosis is a pretty rare disease that causes people afflicted with it to suffer from intellectual disabilities and seizures. However, a side effect of this disease is the formation of tumors in your organs, mainly your kidneys.
7. Von Hippel Lindau Disease (VHL)
This is a pretty rare disease that causes the abrupt formation of cancerous tumors in your blood vessels. While this disease mainly targets your brain and eye blood vessels, it might target your kidneys as well.
How To Prevent Kidney Cancer?
There are various steps you can take to prevent kidney cancer. Here’s a rundown of what you can do:
1. Say No To Smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the best things to ensure that you don’t end up suffering from various forms of cancer. This includes kidney cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and oral cancer as well.
2. Weight Maintenance
Maintaining your overall Body Mass Index (BMI) is essential in ensuring that you have a healthy physique and keep cancer at bay.
3. Maintaining Your Blood Pressure
Higher blood pressure can lead to various disorders in your body. Therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is necessary to keep cancer at bay.
Kidney Cancer Treatment
There are two stages of treating any form of cancer – diagnosis, followed by its treatment.
Here, the type of cancer you have and at what stage it’s currently at can be identified. This is done by the following steps:
This is the most common form of a kidney cancer diagnosis. Since blood in urine is a common symptom, your urine is therefore tested for signs of cancerous cells.
2. Blood Tests
Blood tests are pretty effective in detecting the presence of cancerous cells in your body. This can also detect whether you suffer from anemia or have impaired creatinine levels – two signs of kidney cancer.
3. CT And MRI Scan
X-ray and magnetic ray scans are pretty effective at imaging your kidneys and detecting the presence of tumors there.
This is another form of scanning that is used to create various images of your kidney and identify the presence of tumors.
5. Renal Mass Biopsy
This technique is used pretty rarely, mainly as a final resort. Here, a needle is injected directly inside your kidney to collect blood and tissue samples, which can contain cancerous cells.
After the presence of a kidney tumor and its stage is identified, it’s now time to treat it.
Two types of surgery can be conducted here, depending on the size of the tumor:
- Partial Nephrectomy: If the size of the tumor is less than 7cm, then only the tumor is removed.
- Radical Nephrectomy: If the size of the tumor is pretty big, then the entire kidney might have to be surgically removed.
This is the process of heating and freezing the tumor to destroy the cancerous cells. This is also done using two techniques:
- Cryoablation: Here, a needle is inserted directly into the tumor and is frozen using freezing gas, stopping its spread permanently.
- Radiofrequency ablation: Here, a needle is passed directly into the tumor, with an electrical current passing into it, destroying the tumor.
3. Radiation Therapy
The above methods of treating kidney cancer are only viable if you have both kidneys. However, if you have only one, then radio waves are passed to stop the spread of the tumor.
4. Targeted Drug Therapy
In this method, specific drugs are used to stop the spread of the tumor and destroy it over time.
In this step, certain medicines are used to strengthen your immunity system and fight against tumor growth.
Often used after the two methods explained above, chemotherapy medications are applied to prevent the spread of the tumor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Here are my answers to some common queries regarding kidney cancer:
Q1. Can You Survive Kidney Cancer?
Ans. Yes, most people survive the five-year term for cancer. The kidney cancer survival rate is 93%, comparatively higher than most other forms of cancer.
Q2. How Serious Is Kidney Cancer?
Ans. Kidney cancer is a pretty severe disease since it affects the functioning of the kidneys. If not treated on time, it can lead to blood poisoning and death.
Q3. Does Kidney Cancer Spread Fast?
Ans. The spread of kidney tumors depends on their size and stage. The bigger the tumor is, the faster it will spread.
Kidney cancer is slowly becoming one of the most common forms of cancer. This happens due to various lifestyle habits like smoking, obesity, hypertension, and more. Getting a urinalysis test along with surgery might be required to treat this form of cancer.