Kidney Cancer Treatment
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of your fist located in your lower back, just below the waist, on either side of your spine. Kidneys filter waste products from the body, make urine and produce hormones that control important processes inside your body. Because each kidney works without help from the other, it is possible to live normally with one kidney, and in some cases, a partial kidney.
When kidney cancer develops, a healthy kidney cell changes, begins to grow out of control and forms a tumor. Cancer cells can also spread to other tissues and make treatment very difficult. Each year, about 63,000 adults will develop kidney cancer and about 13,800 people will die from the disease. It’s most common in adults with the average age of diagnosis being about 64.
Surviving kidney cancer depends on how large the tumor is and if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. People with kidney cancers that are still contained within the kidney (stage 1 kidney cancer) are said to have an 81% chance of living 5 years after the diagnosis.
Kidney cancer survival rates drop if the cancer diagnosis happens in the later stages of the disease. Only about 8% of men and women with stage 4 kidney cancer live five years from their diagnosis.1
To request more information about kidney cancer treatment today: call or contact us online.
Kidney Cancer Symptoms
Not everyone with kidney cancer will have the same symptoms or any symptoms at all. If you do notice changes in your body, make sure to see your doctor as soon as possible. Common symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Blood in urine
- Loss of appetite
- A lump or mass in the lower back
- Pain or pressure in the side or lower back
- A fever that comes back, even without a cold, flu or infection
- High blood pressure
Kidney Cancer Causes and Prevention
Here are a few risk factors that can raise your risk of kidney cancer:
- You are a man (men have a two to three times higher chance of getting kidney cancer)
- You are between the ages of 50 and 70
- You have a family history of kidney cancer in your mother, father, children or siblings
- You have high blood pressure
Changing unhealthy habits like smoking and controlling your blood pressure have been recomonded to reduce your risk of kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis
To diagnose kidney cancer, your medical provider may start with a thorough physical and medical history. They will likely ask about your symptoms and will probably do some basic blood work. From there, you will need advanced testing like a PET scan, CT scan, MRI, or X-ray. None of these tests will confirm cancer – a kidney biopsy (also known as renal biopsy) will be necessary for confirmation.
During a renal biopsy, a provider or a surgeon will collect a small amount of tissue from the kidney, it will then be analyzed under a microscope by a pathologist. The pathologist will be able to identify the type and stage of kidney cancer.
The information provided by a pathology report is very important for treatment of kidney cancer. For example, if other tests (like a CT scan) show a tumor and your medical team decides to remove the kidney completely, you may not need a kidney biopsy performed. If you do go through kidney removal surgery (nephrectomy), your doctor may collect extra tissue samples and lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread.
Treatment for kidney cancer will vary widely depending on how advanced the cancer is. In some cases, if the cancer is small and slow growing, a provider may decide to just watch it closely and not start treatment until there are signs that the cancer is getting worse. In more advanced cases, treatment will usually include one of the following:
- Partial or complete nephrectomy (removing part or all of the kidney)
- Radiofrequency ablation (to burn away the tumor)
- Cryoablation (to freeze the tumor)
- Targeted cancer therapy (medications that attack only tumor cells)
- Radiation therapy
Kidney Cancer Support
Living with a kidney cancer diagnosis and its treatment can leave you feeling scared and with a lot of questions. Seek information and support by meeting with your medical provider. If possible, take along a friend or family member who can help you remember the information your provider gives you.
If the cancer is very advanced, palliative care may be an option. Palliative care refers to supportive measures to provide relief from symptoms, pain, and stress – whatever the diagnosis.
Request more information about kidney cancer today: call or contact us online.
1All statistics from American Cancer Society