Patient's Complete Guide to Renal Cancer

Overview of Renal Cancer

The kidney is an important organ in your body that is involved in the process of excretion. Two bean-shaped kidneys are present in your abdomen area. Normally, kidneys clean the blood and remove waste material by making urine. They are also busy in the regulation of certain minerals such as Na, K, and Ca. Kidneys are also responsible for making hormones that control your blood pressure and RBC level.

Renal Cancer

Renal cancer or Kidney cancer (گردہ کینسر/Gurda Cancer) is the condition in which your kidney cells grow in an uncontrolled manner. It results in tumour formation and kidneys become unable to perform their normal function. However, you should not be worried because, in contrast to other cancers, kidney cancers can be detected at early stages.

Occurrence of Renal Cancer

In Pakistan, For the occurrence of kidney cancer, no authentic data is available. However, as per one study conducted in Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi, a total of 2393 cases of renal cancer in the mail are reported.

Signs and Symptoms of Renal Cancer

At the initial stages of kidney cancer, you will experience no signs or symptoms. But as cancer grows following symptoms appear:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Blood in urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lump in the abdomen area
  • A sudden decrease in weight
  • Increase in temperature due to unknown reason
  • Fatigued
  • Being anaemic
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in bones

Types of Renal Cancer

Renal carcinoma consists of four stages (1-4) mostly represented in roman I to IV.

Stage I: Your tumour is just confined to your kidney and is up to 7 cm. It has not reached your lymphatic system.
Stage II: The tumour in your kidney is bigger than 7 cm but has not spread to other organs.
Stage III: This stage tells about the size and position of the tumour. Your cancer is of stage III if it has expanded to renal veins, cells around the kidney, and lymph nodes.
Stage IV: This stage is also made up of different tumour sizes and locations. This stage tumour tends to expand to other organs cancer without affecting nearby lymph nodes. Stage IV cancer also affects the adrenal gland and breaches the sac surrounding the kidney (Gerota’s fascia).

Causes of Renal Cancer

Doctors are unaware of the real cause of renal cancer. Mostly, men between the ages of 50-70 years old are affected by this type of carcinoma. However, it can be detected in anyone.

Risk Factors of Renal Cancer

Risk factors associated with kidney cancer are:

  • Male: Men are two times more prone to kidney cancer as compared to women.
  • Smoking: Smokers mostly suffer from renal carcinoma.
  • Obesity: Being obese enhances the chances of kidney cancer due to alteration in hormones.
  • Use of Pain-Killers: If you use certain drugs for a longer period with a doctor’s prescription chances of kidney cancer is increased.
  • Frequent Dialysis: Dialysis is performed when your kidneys are unable to perform normally. However, frequent dialysis can cause renal cancer.
  • Heredity Problem: The risk is typically high in siblings.
  • Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals: Exposure to hazardous chemicals such as benzene, cadmium, herbicides, and organic solvents increases the chances of developing renal cancer.
  • High Blood Pressure: Doctors are unsure whether high blood can be the cause of kidney cancer or not.
  • Black: The risk of renal carcinoma is higher in black people however, the exact reason is unknown.

If you are prone to such risk factors, it does not mean you are a strong candidate for renal cancer. Because sometimes people having no risk factors suffer from renal carcinoma.

Prevention

You can prevent renal cancer by following these steps:

  • Maintain an ideal weight
  • Go with the high fiber diet
  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid exposure to harmful substances
  • Maintain your blood pressure

Diagnosis

If you are facing any symptoms you need to visit a kidney specialist. Upon the first visit, your doctor will recommend the following tests and procedures:

  • Blood and Urine Tests: These tests help the doctor to determine what is the main cause of the symptoms. Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Blood Chemistry Test helps to identify the signs of kidney cancer.
  • Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan or MRI allows the doctor to see the detailed image of the kidney and locate the position of the tumour.
    Biopsy: A biopsy is not required in all cases. If necessary, your doctor will suggest you undergo it. In this procedure, a small piece of tissue is cut from the suspicious area of the kidney. Further, the cells are examined in the lab for the signs of carcinoma.

Treatment of Renal Cancer | When to Consult a Doctor

Renal cancer is typically treated by removing the tumour. If the tumour is just in your kidney this method may be the only option. If cancer has spread to other body organs another treatment method will be suggested by your doctor.

The best method depends on the frequency of factors such as

  • Health
  • Type of renal carcinoma
  • The extent of tumour spread
  • Preferred treatment method

Surgical Treatment

Various kidney tumours are only treated with surgery. Surgery is performed to eliminate the tumour without affecting the function of the kidney. If you have kidney carcinoma your healthcare personnel may perform one of the following operations:

  • Nephrectomy: A method in which the entire damaged kidney is removed completely. During this process, the surgeon will perform a nephrectomy by making several incisions in the abdomen also called laparoscopic or robotic-assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy.
  • Kidney-Sparing Surgery. The procedure eliminates the tumour and a small border of healthy tissue that are present around it instead of the whole kidney. It can be performed as an open procedure, with robotic assistance. It is also called a partial nephrectomy.

Kidney-sparing surgery is a typical treatment method for minor kidney malignancies and it may be a choice if you have only one kidney. To minimize the chances of later complications such as kidney disease and the need for dialysis kidney-sparing surgery is preferred over a complete nephrectomy to sustain kidney function.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Nonsurgical methods are used to treat minor kidney cancers. These treatments include heat and cold. These methods are typically used for people suffering from other diseases.

Other methods may include:

  • Cryoablation: In this method, the tumour is frozen by using a cold needle. The needle is introduced into the tumour by using image guidance.
  • Radio-frequency Ablation. This procedure is done by inserting a probe into the kidney tumour using imaging guidance. Cancer cells are destroyed by a current which burns them by using a needle.

Treatment Methods for Severe Renal Cancer

Serious renal carcinomas that are difficult to cure are treated by using the following methods:

  • Surgery: Surgery is performed to remove metastatic cancer. Surgeons try to remove the tumour completely.
  • Targeted Therapy: This method of treatment targets certain aberrations in the cancerous cells. After blocking these aberrations, targeted medicines are used which cause the death of cancer cells. Before this, your doctor may suggest checking which medicine is best.
  • Immunotherapy: In Immunotherapy your immune system is used to combat the tumour. Normally, cancer cells produce a specific type of protein that guard against the body's immune system. However, immunotherapy interferes with this process and strengthens the immune system against cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is performed by killing the cancer cells using high energy beams such as X-rays and protons. This therapy is also used to minimize the symptoms of renal cancer that has reached the brain and bones

Alternative Medicine

For cancer, there are no alternative medicines. If you are suffering from cancer your stress level is also increased. In this case, integrative medicine treatments are suggested to cope with your stress such as:

  • Art
  • Regular exercising
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Music therapy
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Spirituality

Speciality for Renal Cancer

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