Kidney cancer otherwise known as renal cancer is a disease wherein the cells in the kidneys become cancerous or malignant.
These cells grow out of control which then forms a tumor. A common site of kidney cancer includes the tubules or the lining of tiny kidney tubes. Cancer that occurs in this area is known as renal cell carcinoma. In most cases, renal cancers are detected before they metastasize or spread to other organs and are treated successfully, especially if detected early.
The kidneys are two organs that have a shape of a bean. They are about the same size of a fist and are located behind the organs of the abdomen. Their main function is to remove extra water and waste products from the blood. The kidney is also important with regards to the production of red blood cells and controlling the blood pressure.
The exact cause of renal cancer isn’t clear. The cancer occurring in the kidneys are usually detected during procedures for other conditions. Cancer in the kidney is usually detected through the use of imaging techniques such as CT scans.
Kidney Cancer Types
Several types of renal cancer exist. The most common of which is renal cell carcinoma. This type of renal cancer makes up about 85% of all renal cancer. In this type of cancer, the malignancy first develops in the lining of the tiny tubes connected to the bladder. Urothelial carcinoma also known as transitional cell carcinoma is another type of renal cancer. It occurs in an area in the kidney wherein the urine is collected before being moved into the bladder.
On the other hand, sarcoma is another type of renal cancer. This type is rare and is usually treated through surgery. In some cases, surgery is combined with chemotherapy for better results. This type of renal cancer rarely metastasizes to other organs. Another type of renal cancer is the Wilms tumor. This type is most common in children. Treatment of adult kidney cancer is different from the treatment method for Wilms tumor. This type is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Kidney Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
People age 40 years old and above are commonly affected by this type of cancer. However, the exact cause of the disease is unknown. Renal cancer isn’t contagious. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Studies have shown that certain risk factors can lead to or increase the chance of developing the disease. Certain risk factors include smoking, obesity, age, and many more. Smoking is considered by physicians as a major risk factor. Smokers are more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers. However, the risk decreases as a person quits smoking.
Individuals who are obese, hypertensive, and males are also most likely to develop the disease. People who are exposed to harmful chemicals such as cadmium and asbestos in their workplace are at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer. Furthermore, individuals with chronic kidney failure undergoing dialysis for a long period are also have a greater risk for developing kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer Symptoms
In most cases, kidney cancer signs and symptoms does not appear on its early stages. The symptoms may appear as the tumors grow larger. Common symptom of the disease include blood in the urine, loss of appetite, lump in the abdomen, weight loss, fever, extreme fatigue, swelling in the legs or ankles, back pain, and anemia.
Cancer in the kidney may also spread to other organs in the body. This causes the manifestation of other symptoms depending on the organ involve, such as coughing up of blood and shortness of breath if the lungs are affected and bone pain if the affected organ is the bones.
Kidney Cancer Treatmen
Treatment of kidney cancer involves different treatment modalities. In most cases, surgery is needed to treat the cancer. Individuals with renal cancer in its early stage are more likely to be successfully treated with surgery. However, individuals in the later stage of renal cancer may not be able to withstand surgery.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also common methods to treat renal cancer. However, the prognosis for this type of treatment is often poor. This is because tumors in the kidney don’t usually respond well to this type of treatment method. In most cases, radiation therapy is only used to relieved discomfort brought by the disease.
Immunotherapy otherwise known as biologic therapy is a treatment modalities used for most types of renal cancer. These drugs used in immunotherapy stimulate the immune system to aid in fighting against cancer. Common drugs include interleukin-2 or interferon.
In some cases, other treatment options may be used to treat kidney cancer. This includes cryotherapy or the use of extreme cold to eliminate the tumor, the use of high-energy radio waves to kill the tumor or radiofrequency ablation, or arterial embolization or the blocking of blood flow into the tumor.