Kidney Cancer Facts

The kidneys are two organs in the body that filter the blood and remove waste material and excess water by making urine that is expelled as waste. Cancer is the growth of malignant (abnormal) cells within the body. Although the exact cause of kidney cancer is not known, risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, long-term dialysis,Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome, occupational exposure (coke oven workers and asbestos workers, for example), and male gender.

Signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include :

Blood in the urine, constant pain in the side or flank, a lump or mass in the abdomen or side, fever, weight loss, and fatigue. The following tests are used to help diagnose kidney cancer: physical exam, urine tests, CT and/or MRI of kidney tissue, and ultrasound. Surgical removal of kidney tissue allows the type of kidney cancer to be determined.

Renal cell cancer ( subtypes: clear cell, papillary renal cell, chromophobe renal cell ) makes up about 90% of all kidney cancers. Rare types of kidney cancer include carcinoma of the collecting ducts, renal medullary carcinoma, sarcomatoid cancer, transitional cell carcinoma, Wilms tumor in children, oncocytoma, hereditary papillary renal cancer, and unclassified renal cell carcinomas.

Kidney cancer is staged by measuring the size of the tumor, the location of the cancer cells either confined to the kidney, locally spread, or widespread beyond the fibrous tissue surrounding the kidney (stages I through IV).

There are other similar staging systems. Treatment of kidney cancer includes one of or a combination of the following methods: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, embolization, biological therapy, and surgery.

Side effects of kidney cancer treatment are related to the methods used and may include the following: nausea and vomiting, weakness, weight loss, infection, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, skin rash, and hair loss.After treatment, follow-up care is very important to monitor recovery and to check for any possible recurrence of kidney cancer. Research is ongoing; combined chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation is an active area of research. Other studies include developing cancer vaccines to help the immune system attack cancer cells. There are a number of resources available for patients who have kidney cancer. Read More

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