What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer begins with the uncontrollable growth of cells in the kidney. These cells turn into masses (tumors) which either can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Thus, to get appropriate treatment according to your situation, it is best to visit a nephrologist in Lahore in the initial stages.
What Are the Types of Kidney Cancer?
Following are the types of kidney cancer:
- Renal Cell Carcinoma:
It is the most common type of kidney cancer. Renal cell carcinoma begins within the renal tubules of the kidney. This type of kidney cancer spreads quickly to other organs.
- Wilms Tumor:
This type of kidney cancer occurs in children who are 3 to 4 years old. Wilms tumor is less common among adults.
- Benign Kidney Tumors:
The symptoms of this type of tumor are similar to renal cell carcinoma. However, it is a non-cancerous type of tumor and does not spread to other organs in the body.
- Renal Sarcoma:
It is a rare type of cancer that begins within the connective tissues of the kidney and surrounding fat. It may spread to other body organs and is likely to reoccur.
- Transitional Cell Carcinoma:
This type of kidney cancer develops in the area where urine is made before it moves to the bladder. As a result, it looks more like bladder cancer and is treated in the same way.
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?
Some common symptoms of Kidney cancer are:
- Blood in urine
- Persistent lower back pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling lump or mass in the back or side
What Causes Kidney Cancer?
A few factors that may put you at higher risk of kidney cancer are:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Overuse of medications
- Family history
- Long-term dialysis
- Other chronic kidney diseases
- Exposure to chemicals and toxins
- Genetic conditions like VHL syndrome, HPRCC, and BHD syndrome.
- Birth defects (In case of Wilms tumor)
- WAGR syndrome or Denys-Drash syndrome (In case of Wilms tumor)
What Are the Stages of Kidney Cancer?
Determining the stage of kidney cancer is important to administer the right treatment plan. By knowing the exact stage and type of cancer, doctors are able to prescribe treatment options that work specifically for that stage and type of cancer. Following are the stages of kidney cancer:
- Stage 1 and 2: The tumor has not spread to other organs and is limited to the kidney only.
- Stage 3: The tumor is either in the nearby lymph nodes or has become locally invasive.
- Stage 4: The tumor has spread to other organs, or it is growing beyond Gerota’s fascia.
How is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?
The doctors may start the diagnostic procedure with:
- Physical examination
- Evaluating symptoms and signs
- Complete Metabolic Panel test
- Urinalysis (urine tests to check for blood, bacteria, and other infections in the urine)
- Blood Tests to check for any abnormality in the functionality of kidneys
- Ultrasound to visualize functionality of kidneys
- CT-scan and MRI for detailed images of the kidney, and determining the stage of kidney cancer
- Biopsy of kidney mass to identify the stage and type of kidney cancer
- PET-scan to check how far has the kidney cancer spread
What Are the Treatments for Kidney Cancer?
Following are the most common treatments recommended for kidney cancers:
Surgeries performed for the treatment of kidney cancer are of two types.
- removal of the tumor from the kidney (partial nephrectomy)
- complete removal of the affected kidney (nephrectomy)
Non surgical treatments used to treat kidney cancer are:
- freezing cancer cells (cryoablation)
- destroying the cancerous cells through heat (radiofrequency ablation)
- Therapies using medication:
An oncologist may suggest systemic therapy to destroy cancerous cells by using medicines. These therapies include targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy.
If you are experiencing symptoms of kidney cancer, or have a family history of kidney cancer, it is never too late to visit a nephrologist in Islamabad.