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Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer


Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, refers to the development of malignant tumors in the kidneys. The kidneys are vital organs responsible for filtering and removing waste products from the bloodstream, regulating fluid balance, and producing urine.


Types of Kidney Cancer

There are several types of kidney cancer including –

  • Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) It is the most common type of kidney cancer and accounts for 80- 85% of all kidney cancer cases. It starts developing in one single kidney and starts spreading to both kidneys. 
  • Transitional Cell Cancer (TCC)Transitional cell cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cell lining of the urinary tract. It happens in 6-7% of kidney cancer cases and can also affect other parts of the urinary tract, including the renal pelvis, ureters, and urethra.
  • Renal Sarcoma Renal sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that accounts for 1% of kidney cancer cases. It is caused by the abnormal growth of cells in the kidney around the connective tissues which leads to tumors and other complications. 
  • Wilms Tumor It occurs mostly in children. It accounts for 5% of kidney cancer cases.

Kidney Cancer

Signs of Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer does not show any noticeable signs in its early stages. It starts showing visible signs only after the cancer starts spreading. The most prominent signs of symptoms witnessed among patients are –

  • Blood in the urine
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling in the legs and feet
  • Bone Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anemia
  • High Calcium

Risk Factors of Kidney Cancer

The primary cause of kidney cancer is yet unknown. However, there are some factors that may increase the chances of getting kidney cancer such as –

  • Age The risk of kidney cancer increases with age.
  • Gender Men are twice as likely prone compared to women.
  • Obesity Being obese or overweight increases your risk of kidney cancer.
  • High blood pressureIt has been linked to hypertension which can cause an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • Smoking People who smoke regularly are two to three times more likely to develop kidney cancer than those who do not smoke.
  • Family history  If you have a family member with kidney cancer, you may be at increased risk for the disease.
  • Genetic Changes Changes in genes can increase the risk of developing cancer.
  • Radiation TherapyWomen who have received past treatments related to reproductive organs have an increased risk of developing kidney cancers. 
  • Exposure to certain chemicals People who are exposed to certain chemicals, such as cadmium and asbestos, may have an increased risk of getting kidney cancer.

Treatments for Kidney Cancer

There are a number of different ways to treat kidney cancer. The treatment for kidney cancer typically involves surgery to remove the affected kidney parts. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be used. The type of treatment options used will depend on the stage of cancer and the overall health of the patient.

  1. Surgery It is the popular treatment for kidney cancer. The surgical treatment depends on the severity of the tumors.
    Partial Nephrectomy It removes part of the kidney that is affected by a tumor.
    Radial Nephrectomy In this surgery, the entire affected kidney is removed along with the tissue around it. The surgeon may also remove some lymph nodes in the area.
  2. Radiation TherapyIt is the second most popular choice after surgery. It is usually recommended in patients with one kidney. It is also used to provide pain relief for patients with kidney cancer symptoms.
  3. Targeted drug therapyIt targets specific molecules of certain genes and proteins that help cancer cells to survive and grow. It is mostly done after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
  4. Immunotherapy The patient’s own immune system is boosted to kill or destroy cancer cells. 
  5. Chemotherapy It is a treatment given through the mouth or veins. It is a powerful drug to kill cancer cells that stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. 

Diagnosis and Tests

The diagnosis of kidney cancer involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. Here are the common diagnostic procedures used to detect and diagnose kidney cancer –

1. Imaging tests – Imaging plays a crucial role in identifying abnormalities in the kidneys and evaluating the extent of the tumor. The following imaging tests may be used –

  • Ultrasound – This non-invasive test uses sound waves to create images of the kidneys. It can help identify the presence of a mass or tumor.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan – CT scans provide detailed cross-sectional images of the kidneys and surrounding structures. They can help determine the size, location, and characteristics of the tumor, as well as identify if cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the kidneys. It provides similar information to CT scans and may be used in certain situations, such as if there are concerns about radiation exposure.

2. Biopsy – A biopsy is the definitive method for confirming a kidney cancer diagnosis. It involves the removal of a small tissue sample from the kidney for laboratory analysis. Biopsies can be obtained through different techniques –

  • Needle biopsy – A thin needle is guided into the kidney using imaging techniques, such as CT scan or ultrasound, to collect a tissue sample. This is often performed under local anesthesia.
  • Surgical biopsy – In some cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary to obtain a tissue sample directly from the kidney. This can be done through laparoscopic or open surgery.

3. Blood and urine tests – Blood and urine tests can provide valuable information about kidney function and help detect abnormalities that may be indicative of kidney cancer. These tests may include –

  • Blood tests – Elevated levels of certain substances, such as creatinine or liver enzymes, may suggest kidney dysfunction or the presence of kidney cancer.
  • Urine tests – Analysis of urine samples may reveal the presence of blood (hematuria) or other abnormal substances that can indicate kidney cancer.

4. Other diagnostic tests – Additional tests may be ordered to evaluate the extent and stage of kidney cancer or to assess overall health and treatment eligibility. These tests may include chest X-rays, bone scans, and additional imaging studies, depending on the specific circumstances.

The specific diagnostic tests used may vary based on individual factors, such as the suspected type and stage of kidney cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. The results of these tests provide crucial information for determining the appropriate treatment approach and prognosis for kidney cancer patients.

Prevention Strategies for Reducing the Risk of Developing Kidney Cancer

There are a number of prevention strategies that can be employed to reduce the risk of developing kidney cancer. Some of these strategies included are –

  • Avoiding tobaccoConsumption of tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for developing kidney cancer. Quitting smoking or avoiding tobacco can dramatically reduce the risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Maintaining a healthy weightBeing overweight or obese increases the risk of developing kidney cancer. Maintaining a healthy body weight through proper diet and exercise can help reduce this risk.
  • Controlling High Blood PressureLifestyle changes such as eating healthy food, weight loss, and a balanced diet can help to control your blood pressure.
  • Eating a healthy diet A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of developing kidney cancer. Avoiding processed meats and excessive alcohol consumption can also help lower the risk.
  • Getting regular exercise Regular exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of developing kidney cancer. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can help lower the risk.


Kidney cancer is a serious condition and can be potentially fatal if not detected early. Knowing the risk factors of kidney cancer can help you identify whether or not you may be at an increased risk for developing this illness. If you notice any of the above symptoms then consult your doctor about necessary screening options and lifestyle changes that may reduce your risk of developing this disease. Taking proactive steps toward prevention could save your life in the future.

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