About the disease
Kidney cancer, also known as renal cell cancer, develops in kidney cells that become malignant and form a tumor. Most cancers of this type develop in the lining of renal tubules. They rarely metastasize and are most often diagnosed in the early stages of disease. Kidney cancer is most commonly found in people over 40. It is also twice as common in men as in women. Kidney cancer is believed to be caused by smoking, a genetic predisposition, VHL disease, obesity and previous kidney diseases that required long-term use of a dialysis machine. In some cases, kidney cancer is related to high blood pressure. However, one theory suggests that kidney cancer can be caused by drugs such as beta-blockers, which are used to treat hypertension, rather than the high blood pressure itself.
Cancer.Net reports that in the USA alone, approximately 63,000 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer every year. The 5-year survival rate for kidney cancer is 73%, which is a good indicator. Chances of a full recovery are even higher if cancer is only located in one kidney. However, if cancer has spread to other organs, the survival rate is only 12%, which is why it is so important to get an early diagnosis.
- A lump and pain in the side or lower back
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in the urine
- Painful urination
- Swelling in the side
- Swelling of the legs
- CT scans produce three-dimensional images that can be useful in detecting kidney cancer in its early stages.
- A PET scan can determine the stage of the cancer, by providing information about biological changes in cells that are associated with growth and therefore the spread of malignant cells.
- Ultrasound can establish whether there are any foreign masses in the patient’s abdomen, kidneys or reproductive organs.
- A biopsy to remove kidney tissue may also be performed, so that it may be examined under a microscope if the other tests were inconclusive.
- A laparoscopic partial nephrectomy is a minimally invasive keyhole surgery that is used to remove cancer from a kidney. It is recommended for patients whose tumor is not very big in size. The surgeon uses a laparoscope to make an indirect incision and resects the tumor with the help of a special camera.
- A radical nephrectomy is used in progressed stages of kidney cancer. The whole kidney and the surrounding tissue are removed. If both kidneys need to be resected, the patient will require a kidney transplant immediately after surgery.
- A laparoscopic nephrectomy with ureterectomy is performed if the tumor has spread from the kidney to the ureter. In this case, the tumor along with the affected kidney(s) and ureter are resected.