Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both women and men, though it is twice as common in men. It is often diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 75, and rarely in people younger than 45. Fortunately, survival ratesfor this disease is relatively high, especially when diagnosed and treated in its earliest stages. For this reason, it is important to know the symptoms of this cancer, how it is diagnosed and key treatment options.
Types of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is also called renal cancer, and occurs when masses and tumors grow on the kidneys. There are three general types of kidney cancer and a few subtypes.
Renal Cell Carcinoma
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer. It typically occurs when cancerous cells develop in the lining of tubules, which are very small tubes in the kidney. These cells eventually grow into a mass and cause an obstruction, which may occur in one or both kidneys. There are four subtypes of RCC:
- Clear cell RRC accounts for approximately 80% of all renal cell carcinomas. The name for this cancer refers to the fact that the tumor cells appear clear or very pale when viewed under a microscope.
- Chromophobe RCC is also clear when viewed under the microscope but the cells are larger than the Clear Cell RCC.
- Collecting Duct RCC is a rare and aggressive type of cancer that accounts for less than 1% of RCC.
- Unclassified RCC is also rare and is actually a grouping of RCCs that do not fall into the other categories.
Transitional Cell Carcinoma
This cancer is also known as urothelial cancer or renal pelvis carcinoma. The name refers to the fact that it forms in the region wither the kidney and the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder) join. The cells may look more like bladder cancer cells than kidney cells.
This is a very rare type of kidney cancer that develops in the connective tissue of the kidney.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
Unfortunately, renal masses and tumors often have no symptoms and are found by chance when a doctor is testing for other problems. When there are symptoms, they are most likely to be:
- Blood in the urine
- Persistent pain in the side, abdomen or back that is not caused by an injury
- A lump in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight not due to dieting
- Anemia and fatigue
- Persistent fever not caused by an infection
If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, the symptoms will be depend on where it spreads.
Diagnosis Renal Masses and Tumors
As stated above, the most common way that renal masses and tumors are diagnosed is when a doctor is conducting medical tests to address another problem. Kidney cancer diagnosed in this way is often localized to the kidney and have good outcomes. The cancer may also be diagnosed when it spreads to another part of the body and causes damage.
Once there is a diagnosis of a mass or tumor, a urologist will conduct additional tests, including blood tests, urinalysis, kidney function tests and ultrasounds to determine the exact type of cancer a patient has, which will inform treatment processes. CT Scans, chest x-rays and bone scans may be done to determine if the mass has spread.
Treatment of Kidney Cancer
The type of treatment a patient receives for renal masses and tumors will depend on the stage of the cancer. Generally, the most common treatments for kidney cancer are:
- Active Surveillance (AS). This treatment is used for small, localized renal masses and means that the urologist monitors the mass and takes no further treatment actions until or unless it is required.
- Partial and radical nephrectomy. This is a surgical procedure to remove part (partial) or all (radical) of the kidney. This surgery is often performed by robotic or laparoscopic methods, and lymph nodes and adrenal glands may be biopsied or removed during this procedure.
- This is procedure to use extreme cold (cryoablation) heat (radiofrequency ablation) to destroy the tumor. This procedure is only used if the tumor is small.
At Kasraeian Urology, we understand that it can be frightening to receive a cancer diagnosis, but we are here to help. As a member of your treatment team, we review your treatment options and discuss their potential risks, results and side effects, so that you can make the informed decision that is right for you. Please contact us today so that you can start on your road to recovery. Call us to schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations.