Kidney cancer

Your kidneys are very important organs of the body. They are part of the urinary system and help filter waste products out of the blood, expelling those wastes in the urine. Kidney cancer is more likely among people aged 55 years or over and it is more common in men than women.

Most cases of kidney cancers (85%) are as a result of renal cell carcinomas, which begin in the lining of either one or both kidneys. There are other less common types of kidney cancer. These include transitional cell carcinoma which develops between the kidney and the ureter, renal sarcoma and Wilm’s tumor, which only affects children.

The causes of kidney cancer are not known, but there are some factors that could increase your chances. Cigarette smoking is something that can contribute to kidney cancer. Research suggests that one in three cases of kidney cancer may be due to smoking.

Faulty genes are another contributor. Some people inherit a faulty gene, and this increases their chances of kidney cancer. Painkillers containing phenacetin were known to cause kidney problems. This dangerous drug is banned now, but people who used them before they were banned are still at risk.

Being overweight or obese may cause changes in certain hormones, which could lead to kidney cancer. Exposure to asbestos, cadmium and some organic solvents particularly found in the workplace also increases your chance of developing cancer.

Detecting kidney cancer is very difficult especially during the initial stages. In many cases it is detected while a doctor is testing for something else. As the cancer progresses, symptoms start to appear more clearly.

Blood while urinating is a very common symptom of fully developed kidney cancer. If this ever happens to you, a doctor must be consulted immediately. You don’t have to panic as this could be a symptom of other illnesses such as kidney stones or an infection but it definitely needs to be brought to your doctor’s attention.

Other symptoms of kidney cancer include pain in the lower back, a lump in the area around the kidney, chronic fatigue or tiredness, sudden loss of appetite and weight loss and fever with sweating.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above it is best to seen by a doctor right away. The doctor will usually do a blood and urine test first. If blood is detected in the urine,they may send you for further testing to check if there are any cancer causing enzymes present.

An ultrasound scan is usually the next step; this can detect the growth of cancer cells. You may also have to undergo a CT scan, which is a special x-ray that shows a three dimensional image. Other tests include an MRI scan, blood vessel tests, chest x-ray and a radioisotope bone scan.

If a cancer has been detected it will have to be treated. The treatment will depend on the stage the cancer is in. It could include radical nephrectomy, a surgery to remove the whole kidney. During this procedure other affected tissues, such as nearby lymph nodes, are also taken out if discovered. Another type of surgery is partial nephrectomy which involves removing only the diseased part of the kidney. The second option is preferable, of course, and is the most common surgery performed.

If it is not possible for you to have surgery to treat your kidney cancer due to other medical problems, your doctor may suggest another option. One treatment that may be effective is arterial embolisation involves the cutting of the main blood supply to the cancer.

Radiotherapy is a method where radiation is used to target and kill the cancer cells. This is not used in people whose cancer is curable as the side effects are quite harsh. Biological therapy is another method which involves fight the disease using substances that are naturally produced within the body.

It is important to note that you can survive just fine with only one kidney and you should never be afraid of speaking to a doctor if you feel you have any symptoms of kidney cancer.

Last updated on Mar 22nd, 2010 and filed under Genitourinary Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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