All About Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that strikes the kidneys. It is also referred to as renal cancer.
One of the most common forms of the disease to strike the kidneys is renal cell carcinoma. There are additional types of cancer of the kidneys that can occur, including Wilms’ tumor, a form that affects children.
Any kind of kidney disease is very serious. The kidneys are located behind the abdominal organs and are shaped like beans. They are around the size of a human fist and are located on either side of the spine. Unfortunately, kidney cancer has been increasing. A key reason for that might be that imaging technology like CT scans are being more widely used. As a result, tests may show a surprise discovery of additional kidney cancers.
There are a number of symptoms for kidney cancer, but unfortunately, most of them don’t occur in the earlier stages of the disease. The later stages include symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, persistent back pain below the ribs, fever and blood in the urine that can appear pink, red or brownish in color. It is absolutely wise to see your doctor if you experience any combination or all of these symptoms.
It isn’t clear what causes kidney cancer, but doctors believe the disease manifests as a result of mutations to the DNA of kidney cells. The mutations send signals to the cells, causing them to rapidly grow and result in tumors. In spite of this, there are certain risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of getting kidney cancer. These include older age, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, treatment for kidney failure and certain syndromes that are inherited.
With these things in mind, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking or quit if you are a smoker and seek treatment for your high blood pressure.
Once you speak with your doctor about kidney cancer, be sure to ask him or her what you need to do to reduce your risk or improve your overall condition. Asking certain things in advance, such as a restriction to your diet, is a good idea as well. Keep a journal of any and all your symptoms, even those that might not be related. Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you are taking.
If you or your doctor believe you may have kidney cancer, there are certain tests that can be done to determine if this is indeed the case. Blood and urine tests may be done, imaging tests such as MRIs or CT scans may be performed to check for a tumor or abnormality and it may even be necessary to do a biopsy of your kidney.
If it is determined that you have kidney cancer, your doctor will discuss with you the variety of treatment options that may be available. This largely depends on what stage your cancer is in, your overall health and the kind of kidney cancer with which you have been diagnosed. Treatment options include surgery known as nephrectomy, where an affected kidney is removed, elimination of a tumor from the kidney, known as nephron-sparing surgery, cryoblation, which is the freezing of the cancer cells, radio frequency ablation, heating of the cancer cells, radiation and certain types of drugs.