Kidney cancer refers to the tumorous growth of tissue mass originating in the kidneys. The kidneys are a pair of vital organs having the shape of a bean and are located in the peritoneum within the abdominal cavity.
Currently, the incidence of kidney cancer is quite rare, compared to other cancers like lung cancer, with only less than 100,000 people worldwide affected by this disease. It tends to affect more men than women and the onset is generally above the age of 40. Also Read: Lung Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The main factor causing kidney cancer is DNA mutations in the renal cells, although the exact underlying reason is yet to be determined. These genetic modifications, in turn, lead to uncontrolled proliferation of tissue in the region, ultimately resulting in a huge lump in the kidneys. Although the cancer is triggered in the kidneys, these malignant cells can split up and flow via the bloodstream, metastasizing to other organs in the body.
The common risk factors for acquiring kidney cancer include old age, high blood pressure, tobacco addiction, being obese, family history of the disease, instances of kidney damage and already having undergone dialysis treatment for kidney failure. Also Read: Dialysis: Is It The End Of Life?
The extent of kidney cancer is determined in stages 0 through 4, with 0 being very minor tumors to 4 being a highly invasive and serious cancer, that has spread to the lungs and liver. Hence prompt medical care is recommended, in order to diagnose the symptoms accurately and provide proper treatment measures.
The characteristic symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Discharge of blood in urine
- Persistent back pain
- Sudden decrease in body weight
- Exhaustion and dizziness
- Loss of appetite
- Bulging growths in the region of kidneys
Diagnosis And Treatment
The oncologist who is a professional in treating cancer will initially examine the external indications in the patient and also take note of their family medical history.
The doctor then conducts some imaging tests such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computerised Tomography) scans, as well as blood tests, urine sample and kidney tissue analysis to determine the extent of kidney damage due to the cancerous growths.
Treatment measures are given according to the nature of cancer i.e. whether it is still contained in the kidneys or has spread to other distant organs via the bloodstream.
1. Radiation Therapy
Here, the healthcare professional utilizes a high energy source of matter, such as X-rays or protons, to target the cancerous growth in the kidneys and destroy the mutated cells without causing much damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
This treatment employs taking prescription drugs given by the doctor which will target the tumor mass in the kidneys and gradually diminish them in size and cease their further multiplication.
The medical expert performs either a partial nephrectomy (specifically extracting out the cancerous tissue mass within the kidneys) or a nephrectomy (removing the entire kidney that is affected by cancer), in order to prevent the spread of the malignant tumor to other organs.
In addition, lifestyle modifications are a must, such as following a wholesome diet rich in proteins and fibers, simple exercises to stay active and going for regular check-ups to the medical professional, in order to routinely monitor kidney health and prevent any situations of kidney cancer recurrence.