More than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. Cancer on the kidney, also referred to as renal cancer, is cancer that originates in the kidneys. The kidneys are the bean-shaped organs located on each side of the spine just behind the abdominal organs. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma.
It is not exactly known what causes kidney cancer however medical experts believe it begins when some kidney cells develop mutations within the body’s DNA. These mutations grow and divide and eventually will.
The most common symptoms associated with cancer on the kidney are blood in the urine, a persistent back pain, fever, exhaustion, fatigue and an unexplained weight loss.
Doctors are able to detect kidney cancer in patients by using simple blood and urine tests, as well as certain imaging tests. A biopsy is usually performed so that the tissue of the kidney can be tested and determined if cancer exists. At this point a stage can be determined and a kidney cancer treatment program can be established.
There are four distinct stages of kidney cancer.
- Stage I: The tumor is small and confined to the kidney. The size of the tumor is less than 2.75 inches in diameter.
- Stage II: The tumor is larger than 2.75 inches in diameter; however, it is still confined to the kidney. Stage I and stage II cancer on the kidney can most often be treated with surgery.
- Stage III: At stage III, not only is the cancer larger than the first two stages, but it has now extended beyond the kidney and has possibly reached surrounding tissue, lymph nodes or adrenal glands.
- Stage IV: Stage IV is considered advanced kidney cancer and it means that the cancer has spread outside of the kidney, has invaded nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs, brain and bones.
The early stages of kidney cancer can be treated with surgery. Smaller tumors may require only removing part of the kidney. Larger tumors may require removing the whole kidney. The removal of the affected kidney is called a nephrectomy. During this procedure, the kidney is removed along with surrounding tissue and adjacent lymph nodes. This surgery can be done laparoscopically or via an open incision.
If the tumor is too large or if it has spread, as is the case in the later stages, surgery may not be an option. There are other kidney cancer treatment methods to consider such as an embolization which is an effort to block the blood flow to the tumor; a cryoablation is also an option which is a treatment used to freeze the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy, radiation, and other targeted therapies are also used for advanced kidney cancer. New clinical trials have shown new hopes for kidney cancer patients.
For additional resources on kidney cancer or to learn more about kidney cancer treatment options, please contact North Dallas Urology Associates. To schedule an appointment at our Plano, Richardson and Frisco locations, call 972.612.8037. To schedule an appointment at our McKinney location, call 972.548.8195.