What is a kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is also termed as renal cancer. This cancer begins to develop in the smallest unit cells of the kidney called as the nephrons. The kidneys are such body organs which help in getting rid of the body waste metabolic products as well maintains the fluid and electrolyte balance of the body.
Kidney consists of tiny tubes known as tubules which help in the process of filtration of the blood. All the excess water and salt is eliminated from the body in the form of urine as a continuing process, to avoid any accumulation of waste in the body. RCC is developed when the cancerous cells multiply uncontrollably inside the lining of the kidney tubules.
RCC is fast-growing cancer and often spreads to the lungs and surrounding organs.
Types of kidney cancer
There are mainly two types of the renal or kidney cancer- renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and transitional cell carcinoma (TCC).
RCC is also known as hypernephroma, kidney cancer or renal cancer or renal adenocarcinoma. RCC accounts for the majority of renal cancers in adult patients. Also, RCC is the most fastest growing form of cancer and it readily spreads to surrounding organs like heart and lungs. TCC is also termed as urothelial cell carcinoma of the renal pelvic region. Wilm’s tumor is a rare type of kidney cancer which affects children. These carcinomas develop in different ways in the result of several long-term disease outcomes. These carcinomas are treated as per their stages.
Series of tests will be required including sharing personal and family history of diseases. Physical examination for the presence of any sort of swelling, lumps in the abdominal region and enlarged veins in the scrotal sac region also known as varicocele.
Kidney cancer can be diagnosed by following tests:
Complete Blood count test:
In this blood sample is withdrawn from the arm and is sent for lab evaluation.
CT scan test:
In this scanning closer view of kidneys is observed by the physician for any abnormal growth.
Ultrasound of kidney and abdomen:
In this sound waves are used to generate the picture of an organ by which any tumors or abnormalities can be seen.
In this urinalysis is done for the presence of any blood or any abnormalities in relation to cancer.
In this small piece of kidney tissue is removed by inserting a needle into the tumor part of the kidney. Further, that removed tissue is sent to a lab for evaluation of cancer type.
Further after detection of the type of kidney cancer. Few more staging tests are done to detect where the cancer is spreading. Kidney cancer has 4 stages in particular as per the increasing order of the severity of the condition. Staging tests include PET scan, a bone scan, and chest X-ray.
What are the main symptoms of kidney cancer?
The most common symptom of the kidney or renal cancer is the formation of a mass in the abdomen and blood in the urine also known as hematuria. Various other symptoms might vary person to person. Some of the symptoms can be due to other existing disease conditions as well. It also becomes difficult to detect kidney cancer based entirely on symptoms, in the early stages of the kidney cancer. In initial stages, symptoms are very less noticeable.
Following are the few symptoms which appear in kidney cancer patients:
- A mass or lump formation in the abdominal region
- Blood in the urine
- Weight loss
- loss of appetite
- Tiredness or extreme body fatigue
- Vision problem
- Fever with chills
- Severe abdominal pain mainly on the side
- Excessive unwanted hair growth mostly in women
Rarely patients might experience multiple diseases in which besides renal cancer some neurologic symptom might appear due to some nervous system disorder. The physician would be the best person to analyze and diagnose the patient condition. So no symptoms must be ignored in this case.
How is kidney cancer caused?
Kidney cancer can be caused by any of the following reasons:
- Regular use of medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen, celecoxib or even normally used analgesics like paracetamol can even lead to renal cancer.
- The habit of smoking even doubles the chances of forming a tumor in the kidney.
- A hereditary defect in genes or hereditary diseases like tuberous sclerosis causes more risk of cancer.
- Infection of hepatitis-C might make a person more susceptible to renal cancer.
- Previous history of cancer like cervical or testicular cancer increases the risk of tumor formation in kidneys.
- Obesity in itself is the cause of many diseases and it also makes a person prone to tumors.
- Blood pressure problem affects heart along with the kidneys and a severe high blood pressure problem causes more risks for renal cancer.
- Any pre-existing renal disease might increase the risk of developing cancer.
- Long-term dialysis can also make a person more prone to tumor formations in the kidney.
- Tumors might develop easily in renal transplant patients.
- Von Hippel-Lindau disease in which tumors and cysts are formed in one or more organs increases the chance for renal cancer.
- Few cancers run as a family history especially renal cancers affecting one or both the kidneys of a person.
- Polycystic disease of the kidney which causes kidney cyst might trigger tumor formation in the kidney.
What are the available treatments for kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is treated depending on its stage and amount of its spread in other organs. Surgery is the first line of action for renal cancer for removal of the tumor. Chemotherapy is not considered the much effective case for kidney cancer treatment. However, radiations and drug therapies in combination are used for the advanced stages of renal cancer which has already spread to other organs as well.
Mainly five types of treatment methods are available for kidney cancer:
This involves different kinds of procedures. Like partial nephrectomy in which a small part of the kidney is removed and complete nephrectomy, the entire kidney along with some surrounding tissue, adrenal gland, and lymph nodes might be removed depending upon the spread of the tumor. In case of removal of both the kidneys dialysis and even a kidney transplant might be necessary. However, surgeries in patients with multiple organ problems are not recommended still it can be considered depending upon the state of the patient.
In this high-energy X-rays are used to kill the cancer cells. The radiations can be given internally by placing some wires or given externally with the help of a machine.
In this therapy, drugs are utilized to kill the cancerous cells of the kidney. These can be given by oral or intravenous route, depending on which medication is used for therapy. In this, the drugs reach the cancer-causing cells via bloodstream which minimizes and finally stops its spread to other organs.
It is also termed as an immunotherapy it works in combination with the body’s immune system to attack the cancerous cells of the kidney. The body enzymes and other in made substances of the body help in defending the body against cancer. Its option varies from using torisel, nexavar, sutent, everolimus, and several other interferons and interleukin therapy.
It is one of the recently used modern therapies for cancer treatment. In this drugs attack the cancerous cells only without affecting other healthy cells of the body. Clinical trial enrolment is another way in which cancer is treated using newly formed drugs using modern research.
Such cases, applicable to patients who enroll themselves to be treated with newly formed drugs which are still under trials and are not yet marketed for the treatment. Also, such patients usually opt it, whom all other available drug therapies are either ineffective or their case is different for which none is still available.
Also in Wilms tumor, occurs mainly in the children, treatment done via chemotherapy, radiations, and surgery depending upon the stage of the diagnosis of the disease. These tumors might occur in the fetal stages of baby and might not be noticeable until it causes any problem which becomes abnormally noticeable. It is common for the children under the age of 5. The cause of Wilms is not yet clear however its symptoms are like of any other person with kidney cancer which includes swelling in the abdomen region and blood in the urine.