Cancer of the kidney is an increasingly common urological cancer. It is estimated that about 60,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. The incidence is higher in men than in women – about 60% of cases are diagnosed in men and 40% in women. Children can also develop certain kidney cancers.
ARE THERE RISK FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING KIDNEY CANCER?
Yes, there are several. The most common ones are:
- Cigarette smoking
- Exposure to certain toxins such as asbestos, industrial chemicals and gasoline byproducts
- Congenital condition like von-Hippel Lindau disease
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The problem with most cancers is that we do not have early detection methods for most small tumors. Cancers need to grow to a certain size to cause symptoms or signs. With kidney cancers, they can grow to an extremely large size or spread to other parts of your body before they can be detected. Some of the signs and symptoms of kidney cancer are:
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain or an abdominal mass
- Back pain
- An abnormal blood count
- Weight loss
- Elevated blood calcium levels
- Swollen veins in the scrotum on the right side
HOW IS KIDNEY CANCER DIAGNOSED?
CT scan – this is the most commonly used diagnostic test and gives information about the size, location and extent of most tumors
Abdominal ultrasound – while less specific than a CT scan, ultrasounds can help in the diagnosis of many kidney cancers
Endoscopy – this means looking into the kidney with a telescope. Some kidney cancers can only be seen from the inside when they are small. Biopsies can be taken through the telescope if a tumor is seen.
HOW IS KIDNEY CANCER TREATED?
Surgical excision is the way the vast majority of kidney cancers are treated. In the past, that meant that the entire kidney had to be removed. Nowadays, we try to save as much healthy kidney tissue as possible. So, depending upon the location of a kidney cancer, in many cases only part of a kidney needs to be removed. Modern laparoscopic and robotic surgery techniques may allow surgery to be done through tiny openings in your abdomen instead of through a large incision.
Cryoablation – this means freezing the cancerous tissue. Small probes are placed into the tumor area and argon gas passes through the probes to lower the temperature of the tumor to minus 20 – 40 degrees Celsius. This technique is appropriate for small tumors located in specific parts of the kidney.
HIFU – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. Painless ultrasound waves are aimed at the tumor and raise the temperature to 96 degrees Celsius – just below the boiling point. The treated tissue is instantly destroyed.
So, kidney cancer is a complex disease with many different causes, symptoms and treatments. If you would like a consultation about kidney cancer, call us at 888.735.4336 or email us via our Contact Us form to schedule an appointment at one of our 3 conveniently located offices.