In modern society kidney tumours or cancer is on the increase, which is also one of the more common types of cancers. In the USA approximately 63,990 new patients are diagnosed with kidney cancer annually, whilst approximately 1 in 63 people will be affected by this disease during their lifetime. Whilst kidney- also called renal cancer, has the highest incidence in North America, it showed an increase in developing countries during the past 30 years.
The function of the kidneys is to eliminate excess fluid, electrolytes and waste from our blood stream, forming part of the human urinary system. Another highly important function is to produce red blood cells whilst also regulating our blood pressure.
Cancer of the kidneys typically starts in either the renal pelvis or renal tubule. The kind of cancer which originates on the outside of the kidneys and which metastasizes or spreads to the area of the kidneys is usually another type of cancer.
Kidney Cancer: The Types
Carcinoma of the renal cells accounts for about 30,000 new renal cancer occurrences in the Unites States of America annually.
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Reninoma or Juxtaglomerular cell-tumour
- Renal pelvis i.e urothelial cell carcinoma
- Renal oncocytoma
- Clear cell-sarcoma
- Bellini duct carcinoma
- Wilms’ cancer, generally diagnosed and detected in children younger than 5-years
- Mesoblastic nephroma
- Mixed epithelial-stromal cancer
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
During kidney cancers’ early stages it is not easily detectable and it is only during the later stages the following symptoms maybe experienced by cancer patients:
- A growth or lump near the kidneys, in the back
- Hematuria or blood visible in the urine
Less commonly the following may be acknowledged
- An abdominal mass
- Constant pain near the kidneys but in the side
- Night sweats and continuous fever
- Loss of appetite & Weight loss
- Fatigue, listlessness or tiredness
- Retention of water in the legs and ankles (swelling)
When the kidney cancer had spread to other organs of the body, the under-mentioned symptoms may occur:
- Pain in the bones
- Blood when coughing
- Dyspnea (breath-shortness)
Consult a medical professional whenever these type of signs or symptoms are experienced, which could be caused by other disorders too, with similar signs.
Causes of Kidney Cancer
The precise causes of renal or kidney cancer is not established yet. However scientists found that a kidney tumour starts in a similar manner, through the mutation of DNA like in other types of cancers.
Due to mutation the cells divide and grow unnaturally which eventually forms cancer cells which through the metastasis process spread through the body.
Untreated or undiagnosed cancer grows whilst it spreads through the body’s lymphatic system which consists of glands and nodes.
Generally renal cell carcinoma originates in the tiny tubes’ lining-cells of the functional units or nephron in the kidney. A tumour can sometimes grow in just one kidney and in other cases in both of the kidneys.
Risk Factors In Kidney Failure
Although specific causes are not yet determined by scientific causes, some risk factors were identified, which is also common as far as other types of cancer are concerned.
With aging the risk of cancer increase, especially people older than 65-years.
Obese people are more prone to develop a cancerous kidney tumour.
- Men are more prone to develop renal cancer; three men will be diagnosed with kidney cancer for every two women.
- Hypertension Risk Or High Blood Pressure
With high blood pressure your risk to develop a kidney tumour increases, Diabetes is also a danger for people with some kidney disease. Furthermore, medication for an anti-hypertensive condition also poses a risk for renal cancer.
Regular smokers are at a higher risk. However if they quit this bad habit, the risk drops significantly.
- Harmful Chemicals
Chemicals, like trichloroethylene, cadmium and asbestos poses as a threat to develop kidney cancer where employees are exposed to it.
At construction sites asbestos was commonly used, whilst trichloroethylene was used for a stripping solvent to remove paint from metals. Cadium is found in batteries and is a type of metal.
- Hereditary Factors
A disease namely Von Hippel-Lindau disorder which is an inherited type of disorder poses to play a role in developing different types of tumours, which include kidney cancer.
Another hereditary disorder is called papillary renal-cell carcinoma, which cause multiple tumours in both kidneys. Birt-Hogg-Duby disorder as well as leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma is both other disorders which increase a person’s risk to develop renal cancer.
- Other Factors
Immuno-suppresant medicine is used by kidney-transplant patients, which make them prone to be more susceptible to develop renal-cell carcinoma. Phenacetin, which is prescribed to relief pain, had been associated with an elevated risk to develop kidney cancer, whilst the use of diuretics poses as an added risk too.
- Patients who had dialysis, over a long period which is a treatment for patients whose kidneys don’t function any longer.
- Someone who has lymphoma has an increased risk too, whilst it is unknown why.
- Black people have a somewhat higher risk than white people.
Diagnosis of kidney cancer
After a thorough examination done by a specialist, tests will be done to determine whether the patient has kidney cancer.
- By conducting both blood & urine-tests the doctor can observe whether the probable symptoms could be due to an infection or kidney stones and rule out renal cancer.
- By doing an ultra-sound scan the specialist can diagnose whether the kidney’s shape was altered which could point to a tumour.
- A CT-scan where the patient initially, in general, drink a dye.
- A biopsy which is guided by an image. This procedure requires a needle to take out a small part of the kidney’s tissue which will then be examined for cancer cells by using a microscope.
A narrow, long tube which contains a light and special lens will be inserted in the patient’s urethra, providing an image of the patient’s bladder on the inside. With this procedure the doctor can conduct a biopsy similarly.
- Excretory Urogram
During this test the medical professional will use an intravenous needle to inject the dye into the arm of a patient. The dye is then processed by the urinary system and kidneys. This can enable the doctor to see whether cancer-signs display on the X-ray.
Kidney Cancer: The Four Stages
- Stage I A tumour which is smaller than 2.8-inches and that is just in the kidney
- Stage II A tumour larger than 2.8-inches and just in the kidney
- Stage III Any size tumour which had spread from the kidney into another area and maybe reached a lymph node, adjacent blood vessels, adrenal gland or fatty tissue surrounding the kidney.
- Stage IV A tumour which exceeds the kidney’s surrounding fatty tissue, affecting a lymph node and has spread to organs like the pancreas, lungs or bowel.
Kidney Cancer: The Treatments
Different factors will determine which treatment option will be taken. These factors include the type & stage of renal / kidney cancer, the general health of the patient as well as his own preferences.
Often patients opt for a second opinion after they had been diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Various kinds of treatments are available for kidney cancer. Usually the initial step is surgery. Although the whole tumour can be removed by surgery, your medical professional may suggest an additional treatment to destroy all unseen cancer cells too.
Kidney Cancer: Surgery
- During a fundamental nephrectomy the entire kidney, adrenal gland as well as surrounding tissue will be removed. Sometimes adjacent lymph nodes are also removed. This poses to be the most customary surgery where kidney cancer is concerned. Nowadays surgery can be conducted through small surgical incisions using a laparoscope.
- For tumours smaller than 4 centimetres, or in cases where a comprehensive nephrectomy might damage the adjacent kidney, a partial nephrectomy can remove the tumour in the kidney together with some surrounding tissue.
- With the procedure of a simple nephrectomy only the kidney is removed.
As long as a kidney is functioning, a patient can live with only a section of one kidney. When both kidneys must be removed a patient will need dialysis, a procedure where the blood is cleaned by a machine. A kidney transplant can also be done should a donor kidney be obtainable and if cancer was just found in the kidney.
Other Available Options to Treat Kidney Cancer
- During Cryotherapy extreme cold is utilized to destroy the cancerous tumour.
- With arterial embolization some special material is inserted into an artery with a catheter which goes to the kidney. The blood-flow is blocked to the tumour in this way. This method can assist to shrink a cancerous tumour before surgery is conducted.
- During radiofrequency ablation we can say radio waves with a high energy level are utilized “cooking” the cancerous tumor.
During this type of therapy to destroy kidney cancer, drugs or different substances are utilized in finding and targeting the cancer cells which will cause a lesser toxic level to normal cells. Anti-angiogenic agents is a form of targeted therapy, which stops the blood vessels to feed the tumour which cause its shrinking or stop the growth. Tyrosine kinase- or multikinase inhibitors are a different kind of targeted agent. These inhibitors consist of oral drugs which block the passage of the enzyme which enables the growth of cancer cells. A third kind of such targeted therapy is called m-TOR inhibitors of which two types are available, one intravenous and the other oral. These drugs block the passage which permits the blood vessels to assist the growth of cancer cells. These drugs have a distinctive function in managing advanced kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer: Biological Therapy
During such therapy the body’s immune system is used in fighting kidney cancer by restoring, directing or boosting its original defences. Biological therapy’s ingredients are produced by the human body or made in a laboratory. Interleukin-2 or interferon alpha are examples of biologic therapy to fight metastatic kidney cancer. Innovative immuno-theraphies are currently being studied in the fight against kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer: Chemotherapy
Drugs are used to stop cancer cells to multiply or to kill them. This therapy is not so potent in destroying kidney cancer as it is with other kinds of cancer.
Kidney Cancer: Radiation Therapy
A patient who is too frail for surgery is treated with radiation therapy and is also used to relieve kidney cancer’s symptoms. With this therapy X-rays are used with a high level of energy as well as other kinds of radiation killing cancer cells or stopping their growth. During external radiation therapy, radiation is emitted from a machine towards the body. Side effects of radiation therapy can contain nausea, vomiting as well as fatigue.
Particular vitamins are used during complementary treatments together with the usual treatment. However, this must be done in co-operation with your medical practitioner. Although some people discovered that symptoms can be relieved by certain alternative treatments, it could be dangerous too.
How to Live with Kidney Cancer
When diagnosed with any serious disease or cancer a patient can feel traumatized with anxiety, grief, depression and stress. Follow a healthy diet plan which consists of lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Get ample sleep every night (7.5 hours), follow your doctor’s orders and get enough exercise.
Get all the information you need and your medical team will advise you about the diagnosis and the effectiveness of the available treatment options.
Consulting a qualified psychologist or counsellor, can be very beneficial and allow your family and friends to render emotional, mental, spiritual and especially physical health support.
Life Expectancy Diagnosed at Different Stages
Whenever the kidney cancer is deemed to be diagnosed at an early stage, the patients are more positive.
- Stage I – a 81 percent chance to live for another five years.
- Stage II – a 74 percent surviving-chance to live 5 years longer.
- Stage III – a chance of 53 percent
- Stage IV – approximately 8-percent to live 5 more years.
Can Kidney Cancer be Prevented
Reducing the risk to develop kidney- as well as other cancers the under-mentioned guidelines can be followed:
- Eat a bunch fresh fruits as well as vegetables
- Never smoke
- Follow a proper regular exercise routine
- Maintain your blood pressure according to health standard
- Get sufficient and peaceful quality sleep of approximately 7-hours a night
- Stay away from toxic chemicals
However, there is no guarantee, as with other cancers too, especially because scientists still don’t know the exact causes linked to kidney cancer.