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Kidney Cancer

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Kidney cancer or renal cancer occurs when the cells lining of the tubules (the smallest tubes inside the nephrons) that help filter blood and make urine become malignant. Also known as renal adenocarcinoma, this is the most common type of kidney cancer.

Symptoms of Kidney cancer

You may not experience any symptoms initially. However the following signs show up as the cancer progresses.

  • rust colored urine due to presence of blood
  • pain in one side of the waist just below the ribs
  • tiredness, weakness and exhaustion
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • swelling in feet and ankles
  • loss of appetite

If the cancer has invaded other parts then an individual may cough up blood, suffer from shortness of breath and terrible pain in joints

Causes of Kidney Cancer

  • Mutation in DNA in renal cells that trigger malignant growth
  • Previous medical history of kidney disease and treatment
  • Family history of kidney cancer
  • High blood pressure and smoking put you to greater risk
  • Obesity, Von Hippel-Lindau disease and lymphoma can trigger renal cancer
  • Exposure to chemicals like asbestos, benzene, herbicides, etc.
  • Men and old people are more prone to kidney cancer

Diagnosis of kidney cancer

The cancer gets detected either during a routine exam or on experiencing the symptoms. Irrespective of the fact you are having cancer or not, you need to undergo physical exam, evaluation of medical history and then several tests.

List of diagnostic tests are:

  • preliminary blood and urine test to check for infections or inflammation
  • Imaging tests like CT scan, MRI, intravenous pyelogram (IVP), ultrasound, renal arteriogram to check for presence and growth of tumor
  • Kidney tissue biopsy can determine the stage of the cancer

Stages of Kidney Cancer

The staging is determined according to the size and malignancy of the tumor.

  • State 1: tumor nearly around 7 cms in diameter and confined to the kidney
  • Stage 2: the tumor larger than stage 1 but present only in kidney
  • Stage 3: the cancer cells of kidney invade the surrounding lymph nodes
  • Stage 4: the tumor spreads to other parts of the body

Preparing for the treatment

Your doctor will let you know what kind of treatment you need to undergo which absolutely depend on the stage of cancer, your age and general health.

Pre treatment restrictions including modification in eating and drinking will be explained by your doctor.

Make sure you clarify all those questions that would obviously occur in your mind.

Treatment of Kidney Cancer


Surgery involves removing the kidney partially or completely or along with the surrounding tissues, lymph nodes or adrenal gland

  • Simple Nephrectomy
  • partial nephrectomy

Non surgical or Minimal invasive techniques

When surgery cannot be performed on the body, then non surgical or minimal invasive techniques are used. They are:

  • radiofrequency ablation
  • Arterial embolization
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Biological Therapies

Biological therapies aim at utilizing the body’s immune mechanism to treat the cancer. The following are the advanced techniques used to treat metastatic cancer:

  • Immunotherapy
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Targeted drug therapies

Coping with kidney cancer

The time period of healing will absolutely be determined by the treatment you are undergoing.

Definitely lot of physical pain and mental endurance is required side by side. Make sure you stay positive, spend time with your close ones, eat and drink healthy, engage in hobbies and physical activities to keep yourself fit and lively.

Chances of recurrence remain and there are no sure shot preventive measures as well. Nevertheless, you become lot less vulnerable to developing kidney cancer when you don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015

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