Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as, renal cancer occurs when there is malignancy in kidney cells. The cancer may be limited to smaller select areas of the kidney, larger areas of the kidney and/or may spread when left untreated. This type of cancer mainly affects people aged 60 years and above.

Symptoms of Renal Cancer

Symptoms of renal cancer do not normally appear during the early stages and tend to show up during the later stages as the cancer progresses, depending upon the aggressiveness of the cancer. The most common and major symptom of renal cancer is the expulsion of blood in the urine. The other signs and symptoms may include:  

  • Blood in the urine, which may cause the urine to appear pink or cola colored.
  •  Weight Loss
  •  Loss in Appetite
  •  Lump in the Abdomen
  •  Anemia
  •  Undue Fatigue
  •  Back Ache that is often experienced just below the ribs.
  •  Pain in the Side Flank area that does not go away with over the counter medications.
  •  Persistent Fever accompanied with sweats that stays on for weeks together
  •  Swelling in the Legs and or Ankles
  •  High Blood Pressure

If the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, then symptoms may include, but may not be limited to:

  • Pain in the Bones
  •  Presence of Blood while Coughing
  •  Difficulty in Breathing

Renal Cancer Diagnostic Tools

Your doctor will complete a physical evaluation, review your health history and family risk factors, as well as, consult with you about his or her recommendations for diagnostic tests.

Urine Analysis is a preliminary urine analysis will be done for analyzing blood in the urine.

Blood Tests will be performed to establish the level of functioning of the kidneys, such as a Creatinine test.  

Ultrasound may be performed to analyze the nature of the tumor. An ultrasound image can distinguish between tumors that are solid or fluid – filled. This imaging technology may also offer some information about the location and size of the tumor.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan may be performed using radiation to offer an enhanced  picture of the tumor when compared to ultrasound.

Intravenous Urogram may be performed to study the functioning of the urinary system.

Cystoscopy is a method of determining whether the lining of the urinary bladder contains blood. A local anesthesia is normally administered during the test.

Renal Arteriogram may be performed to study the blood supply to the tumor. This test is used only in certain cases. This test also helps to detect the presence of small tumors in the body.

Biopsy may be performed in certain cases. This procedure is performed to study the nature of the tumor. Suspicious cells are removed and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Treatment for Kidney Cancer

Treatment of renal cancer depends upon a variety of factors. This includes the stage of the cancer and general health of the individual who has cancer. Unlike other types of cancer, renal cancer does not respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The following treatment options have been adopted for treating renal cancer.

Surgical removal of the malignant tumor may be performed when the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. This is the initial and preferred mode of treatment for kidney cancer. There several types of surgical methods, including:

Radical Nephrectomy is the most common form of kidney cancer treatment. This method may involve the surgical removal of the kidney, adrenal glands and neighboring tissues. More targeted surgical treatment options include:  

Simple Nephrectomy refers to the removal of only the kidneys.

Partial Nephrectomy, also known as nephron-sparing surgery is used for people who have smaller tumors, sized less than 4cm. It is preferred mode of treatment in those people who cannot tolerate radical nephrectomy. In this technique, the affected areas of the kidney and select surrounding tissue are surgically removed. This is a more complex procedure that a select number of Urologists have adopted. A variation in this technique involves the use of a Robot offered by a select number of hospitals. The use of this technique is on the path of rapid expansion. In the case of Robot Assisted Partial Nephrectomy for early stage kidney cancer, the robot aids with completing complex tasks associated with the procedure based on the surgeon’s level of expertise using the technology. All of which is performed with the goal to reduce surgical risks (excess bleeding), the shorten hospital stay and speed up the recovery process when compared to traditional methods.

Cryoablation may be employed when the renal cancer cannot be treated through surgery. This technique involves freezing of the cancer cells by means of gas needles. The needle is inserted into the skin to reach the affected kidney to freeze the cancer cells.

Radiofrequency Ablation is another alternative treatment mode for people who may not qualify for surgery. This method involves burning or heating the cancer cells by means of electric current.

Biologic Therapy is a method to help strengthen the immune system to fight against the cancer. The substances that are used in this therapy are derived from using cells from the host body or are prepared under laboratory conditions.

Targeted Therapy involves the use of drugs to target cancer cells and destroy or kill them. This mode of treatment makes the use of specialized drugs that have targeted action against the cancer cells. There are certain drugs, such as Axitnib, Sorafenib, and Pazopanib that may block the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the cancer cells. There is yet another set of drugs, such as temsirolimus and everolimus that function by inhibiting the signals that help the cancer cells to grow and survive.

Kidney Cancer Treatment Outcome

Recovering from renal cancer takes time and requires a recovery period. The outcome of treatment depends, in part, on the general health of the individual and how much the cancer has spread. Surgery for treating renal cancer is associated with a better prognosis when compared to other treatment modes. However, all treatment modes focus on delaying cancer progression and may help prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. 

Next, Visit Q and A for Your Doctor

It is important to recognize that there are benefits and risks associated with all medical procedures. All information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition.