Kidney cancer, or renal cancer, typically originates in the lining of the tubules in the kidney. This form of kidney cancer is known as renal cell carcinoma. Most kidney cancer is generally diagnosed before it advances to other organs. Since tumors within the kidney can grow a considerable amount before they are diagnosed, the earlier it is caught, the easier it is to treat.
Kidney cancer is more prevalent in men than women, and it is one of the ten most common types of cancers. Kidney cancer is usually found in patients over 40.
Early stages of kidney cancer show little to no signs, and typically the symptoms of kidney cancer are generally seen in the later stages. Kidney cancer symptoms may consist of persistent back pain below the ribs, fatigue, blood in urine (red, pink, or dark brown colored), weight loss, and reoccurring fever.
Although the causes of kidney cancer are not known, there are several risk factors that may contribute its development. Risk factors include:
A combination of tests are performed to diagnose kidney cancer, such as urine and blood tests, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, and/or a biopsy. Using these tools and procedures allows the urologist to see if the patient has kidney cancer, and how far it has progressed. Upon kidney cancer diagnosis, the urologist will assign a stage to it, which denotes the extent of the cancer. The following are the stages of kidney cancer:
Each case of kidney cancer is treated individually, based on the cancer’s stage and the patient’s overall health. Surgery is performed first in most kidney cancer patients. The choice of surgical options depends on the progression of the patient’s kidney cancer:
For some patients, surgery is not a choice they would like to take. In these cases, cancer cells can either be frozen (cryoablation) or heated (radiofrequency ablation). These treatments are reserved for patients with small kidney tumors. Not much is known about the long-term effectiveness of these two treatments.
Radiation therapy is a kind of local therapy that can reduce the size of the tumor prior to surgery, or eliminate cancer cells leftover after surgery. In this treatment, high-energy rays are directed to the tumor and will require a few weeks to complete.
There are two types of systemic therapies that can be used in the treatment of kidney cancer. Both of these treatments utilize drugs administered intravenously to eradicate cancer cells. The following are two systemic therapy options for kidney cancer:
Kidney cancer can be a traumatic time in a patient’s life, but the urologists at Academic Urology and Urogynecology of Arizona have the experience and knowledge to guide you every step of the way. The doctors at AUUA specialize in all facets of men’s urology. Call AUUA today to learn more about the conditions we treat and the procedures we perform.