Kidney Cancer

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What is Kidney Cancer?

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located behind abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of spine. Kidneys help to clean out the waste and create urine, which is further collected in the renal pelvis and then goes through the ureter and then out of the body. Kidneys are also responsible for making hormones which help control blood pressure.

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer by its medical name, is a disease that originates in the kidneys. The kidney cells become malicious and grow out of control, which further forms a tumour. Tumor can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

One common kidney lesion is a fluid-filled area, cyst. Simple cysts are non-cancerous and don’t require treatment. Solid tumors can be non-benign, but are malignant more than 80 percent of the time.

In the recent times, kidney cancer seems to be increasing as because of the increasing use of imaging techniques such as CT scan, which can cause the accidental discovery of more kidney cancers.

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Types of Kidney Cancer

Mainly, there are three types of kidney cancers: Renal cell cancer (RCC), Wilms’ Tumors and Transitional cell cancer.

1. Renal Cell Cancer (RCC)

This is by far the common kidney cancer in adults which accounts for more than 80 percent of all kidney cancers. In RCC, the cancer starts in the lining of tubules in the kidney that help filter blood.

While RCC generally grows as a single tumor within a kidney, at times there are two or more tumors in one kidney or even in both kidneys.

There are various types of renal cell cancer, mainly based on how the cancer cell looks under a microscope – Clear cell, Oncocytic, Papilalry, Collecting duct and Chromophobe.

Symptoms of Renal Cell Cancer

In early stages of RCC, patients may be symptom-free. Symptoms may include blood in the urine, loss of appetite, weight loss, a lump in the abdomen, vision problem, excessive hair growth and fatigue.

Treatment of Renal Cell Cancer

The probability that RCC will be treated depends on its stage. Stage 1 may be treated with surgery. Though, by the time it has reached stage 4, surgery is usually not an option.

Renal cell cancer, if found in early stages, can be treated over half the time. Unfortunately, it is often not found until reached an advanced stage.

2. Wilms’ Tumors

Wilms’ Tumors is a rare type of cancer which affects young children. Almost 9 of 10 kidney cancers in kids are Wilms tumors. Often, Wilms tumor occurs in just one kidney but can sometimes be found in both kidneys at the same time.

This type of cancer is likely to be successfully cured with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It may spread to the brain, lungs, bone or nearby lymph nodes.

Fortunately, due to highly treatable nature of this disease, children with Wilms tumor go on to live normal healthy lives.

Symptoms of Wilms’ Tumors

Most children do not show any signs of kidney cancer and usually act normal. However, parents may notice a smooth lump in kid’s abdomen. Some children may also have stomach pain, blood in the urine, nausea, fever and loss of appetite.

Tumors are often large when found and most haven’t spread to other areas, making it easier to treat.

Treatment of Wilms’ Tumors

Treatment for Wilms tumor may vary by the stage and usually involves surgery and chemotherapy.

3. Transitional Cell Cancer

This type of kidney cancer usually affects men aged 50 years or above.

Transitional cell carcinomas, also known as urothelial carcinomas, doesn’t start in the kidney itself but develops in the lining of the renal pelvis. This type of kidney cancer is rare and only about 7% are detected.

While, it’s not clear what causes TCC, but there are number of reasons that could increase the risks including smoking, medicine such as painkillers and cyclophosphamide or working with particular chemicals such as rubber, aluminium, industrial dyes and pesticides.

Symptoms of Transitional Cell Cancer

Symptoms include blood in the urine, pain in your back, lower ribs and between the lower ribs.

Treatment of Transitional Cell Cancer

TCC is usually treated by surgically getting rid of the whole kidney and the ureter, along with the portion of the bladder where the ureter is attached.  Smaller cancers can be cured with less surgery. Sometimes chemotherapy is also given, depending on the how much cancer is found.

9 of 10 cases are treated if found at an early stage. However, the chances are lower if it has grown into the uterer wall.

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