An abnormal growth of cells that starts invading the normal cells around it is called Cancer. When these abnormal tumor cells are present in the kidneys, they lead to kidney cancer. These are malignant tumours. Cancer cells can also cause benign tumors sometimes grow large enough to cause problems, but they do not grow into nearby tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.
Symptoms for kidney cancer may not appear until it’s too late. However, some of the common signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Low back pain on one side (not caused by injury)
- A mass (lump) on the side or lower back
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss not caused by dieting
- Fever that is not caused by an infection and that doesn’t go away
- Anaemia (low red blood cell counts)
However, some of these may be caused due to less serious ailments as well. Do go to the doctor if you have any of the symptoms.
Some of the causes and risk-factors for kidney cancer include:
- Advanced kidney disease poses a higher risk
- Gender: twice as common in men
- Genetic and hereditary risk factors: People who have the conditions listed here have a much higher risk for getting kidney cancer, although they account for only a small portion of cases overall.
a) von Hippel-Lindau disease
b) Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma
c) Hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma
d) Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome
e) Familial renal cancer
f) Hereditary renal oncocytoma
Most kidney cancers can be prevented by decreasing a person’s exposure to the risk factors listed under the “Causes” section.
Cancer has different stages, each depicted by a Roman numeral from 1 to 4 (I, II, III and IV). Stage I is the first stage where the tumor is still small while at Stage IV, the patient’s condition is said to be critical because the tumor has spread to other organs of the body. Hence, a cancer’s stage refers to the tumor’s size and extent of spread. This is the simplest form of staging.
In kidney cancer, the stage depends on whether it is confined to kidneys (localized cancer, Stage I) or whether it has spread to other organs (metastatic cancer).
The stage decides the kind of treatment you need to get. The greater the stage number, the more complex the treatment.
Needless to say, if the cancer is detected while it is still in Stage I, survival rate is higher. The rate decreases progressively with the increase in stage. Stage III is considered critical, while stage IV is, more often than not, fatal.
Most kidney cancers can be found early.
There are different treatments for different stages.
- Ablation and other local therapies
- Active surveillance
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Immunotherapy(biologic therapy)
A combination of these treatments may also be used at times.
If you have any of the symptoms, please do visit the doctor.
If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in the Symptoms section , you should probably visit a doctor.