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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Kidney cancer is a condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs in the kidney tissue. These cells will divide and grow, forming a mass called a tumor. Check out an explanation of the symptoms, causes, and how to treat it in the following review.

Kidney Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer is a condition in which cells in the kidneys grow abnormally and uncontrollably. Cancer cell growth begins when there is a change in the DNA in the cell, and the cell then grows out of control.

This collection of abnormal cells can form a tumor which can then spread throughout the kidney or to other organs of the body (metastasis).

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

In its early stages, this condition generally has no specific symptoms. However, when it is at an advanced stage, some of the characteristics of kidney cancer include:

  • Decreased appetite to eat.
  • There is weight loss for no apparent reason.
  • Pale, weak, easily tired.
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night.
  • Bloody urine (hematuria).
  • Prolonged fever.
  • Lack of blood (anemia).
  • Pain in the lower back and waist.
  • A lump appears around the waist or stomach.

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Immediately check with your doctor if you experience some of the symptoms as mentioned above. Also keep in mind that early stage kidney cancer generally does not cause symptoms. Therefore, it is important to carry out regular health checks.

Treating kidney cancer as early as possible can prevent life-threatening complications.

Also Read: 14 Foods That Are Good for Your Kidney Health

Causes of Kidney Cancer

This condition can occur due to mutations in cells that are in the kidney. Just like other types of cancer, this cell mutation cannot be ascertained the cause.

Even so, several factors can increase the risk of this disease, including:

  • Age. People over the age of 64 are most at risk of developing this cancer.
  • Smoke. This habit can increase the risk of cancer later in life.
  • Obesity. Being overweight makes a person more susceptible to this disease in the future.
  • High blood pressure. Having high blood pressure (hypertension) increases the potential for developing kidney cancer.
  • Kidney failure therapy. People with kidney failure who are undergoing medical therapy may be able to develop cancer.
  • Genetic disorders. Someone who is born with congenital syndromes such as Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome and Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome.
  • Family history. Someone is more susceptible if they have family members with a history of the same disease.

Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

In making a diagnosis, the doctor will ask questions about complaints, the patient’s medical history, and family medical history. The doctor will also do a physical examination.

In addition, the doctor may also advise you to do several tests to support a more accurate diagnosis. These checks include:

  • Urinalysis. Check the presence or absence of blood content in the urine. Through this examination, the blood content will be known even when it is not visible to the naked eye.
  • Blood test. Check red blood cell count, electrolytes, tumor markers, and kidney function.
  • Biopsy. Checking for masses or tumors that arise in the kidneys, as well as examining samples of kidney tissue.
  • Imaging test. Checking the condition of the kidneys and the spread of cancer cells throughout the body with ultrasound, CT scansor MRIs.

Types of Kidney Cancer

This disease is divided into several types, including:

1. Renal Cell Carcinoma

This type of kidney cancer is the most common kidney cancer, which is about 85 percent of total cases.

2. Transitional Cell Carcinoma

Transitional cell carcinoma holds a case percentage of 6 to 7 percent of all kidney cancer cases. This cancer starts from the growth of cancer cells in the part where the ureter connects to the main part of the kidney. This area is called the renal pelvis.

3. Renal Sarcoma

Renal sarcoma is the most rare type of kidney cancer. This cancer starts from the growth of cancer cells in the connective tissue that surrounds the kidneys.

4. Wilms tumor

This type of kidney cancer most often occurs in children, generally under the age of 10. This condition, which is also called nephroblastoma, is the result of cell mutations in the kidneys after birth.

Also Read: 10 Symptoms of a Kidney Infection that Often Go Unnoticed

Kidney Cancer Stage

The results of the examination that has been carried out can help the doctor determine the severity. Here’s the explanation:

The tumor is 7 cm or smaller and has not spread to lymph nodes or other tissues.

The tumor is larger than 7 cm and has not spread to lymph nodes or other tissues.

The tumor has spread to many of the blood vessels, tissue surrounding the tumor, or nearby lymph nodes.

The tumor has spread beyond the kidney, adrenal glands, lymph nodes distant from the tumor, or to other organs.

Kidney Cancer Treatment

Treatment depends on the stage, age, and overall health condition of the body. Some common treatment options include:

1. Radiotherapy

If the patient’s health condition is weak, radiotherapy can be done to destroy cancer cells. If the cancer has spread, surgery and radiotherapy cannot be done.

If the surgical procedure is no longer possible, radiotherapy is performed to relieve symptoms or pain and slow down the rate of spread of cancer.

2. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. One or more chemotherapy drugs may be given through a vein in your arm (intravenously) or taken by mouth. The drug combination is usually given in a series of treatments over several weeks or months.

Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Chemo can be done alone or in combination with radiation therapy. This procedure can also be used before surgery to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove.

3. Operation

Surgical removal of cancer can be done if the cancer cells are only on one side of the kidney and have not spread.

In addition, the patient’s health condition needs to be checked whether it is possible to do surgery. Surgical removal of the cancer will usually be followed by chemotherapy to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.

Commonly applied operations include:

  • Radical nephrectomy.
  • Simple nephrectomy.
  • Partial nephrectomy.

4. Ablation

People who cannot have surgery can have an ablation procedure. This procedure is performed by inserting a needle into the tumor. Two types of ablation can be performed:

  • Cryoablation. Freezing cancer cells with cold gas.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. Destroy tumors with high-power sound waves passed through a needle.

5. Targeted Drug Therapy

Targeted drug treatment focuses on specific abnormalities present in cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die.

Many targeted therapy drugs are used to treat cancer, although most are reserved for people with advanced or recurrent cancer.

Some targeted therapies only work in people whose cancer cells have certain genetic mutations. Your cancer cells may be tested in a laboratory to see if this drug helps.

Also Read: Oxalic Acid and Its Effect on Kidney Health

Kidney Cancer Complications

If you don’t get proper treatment, the condition can cause several complications, including:

  • Erythrocyte increase.
  • Disorders of the liver or spleen.
  • Metastases.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • High calcium in the blood.

Kidney Cancer Prevention

This cancer can be prevented or at least the risk can be minimized in the following ways:

  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals.
  • Maintain ideal body weight.
  • Eat nutritious foods, especially those containing antioxidants.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Routine health check.

  1. Anonymous. Kidney Cancer. (Accessed 13 February 2023).
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  3. Anonymous. 2022. Kidney Cancer. (Accessed 13 February 2023).
  4. Anonymous. 2021. Understanding Kidney Cancer. (Accessed February 13, 2023)
  5. Brazier, Yvette and Zia Sherrell. 2022. What you need to know about kidney cancer. (Accessed February 13, 2023)

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