Kidney Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Kidney Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that are around the size of a fist. They're on each side of your spine in your abdomen. Your kidneys filter waste from your blood and produce urine. Your kidneys might be affected by a variety of cancers.According to the National Cancer Institute, there were over 63,000 new cases of kidney cancer in the United States in 2017.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

In the early stages of kidney cancer, there are generally no symptoms. As cancer develops, the following symptoms may appear:

1. chronic back discomfort, particularly right below the ribs

2. stomach discomfort

3. abdominal swelling

4. belly bulge

5. tiredness

6. flank pain

7. recurrent fever

8. anemia

9. unexpected weight loss

What are the Different Forms of Kidney Cancer?

The kidneys can be affected by a variety of cancers. 

Renal cell carcinoma is another name for adenocarcinoma of the kidney. It is the most prevalent kind of kidney cancer in adults and begins in the portion of the kidney responsible for blood filtering. Renal pelvis carcinoma begins in the portion of the kidney that collects urine.The most prevalent kind of kidney cancer in children under the age of five is Wilms' tumour. Other forms of kidney cancer exist, although they are uncommon.

Causes & Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer has no recognised aetiology. Kidney cancer risk factors include:

  • obesity

  • smoking

  • hypertension 

  • family history of kidney cancer

  • older age

  • kidney disease in males

  • being exposed to pollutants at work

How is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of kidney cancer necessitates a thorough medical history as well as a physical examination. Your doctor will examine your abdomen for any signs of swelling or a lump. In males, the doctor may also examine for an enlarged, twisted vein in the scrotum, known as a varicocele.Among the tests that can be used to identify kidney cancer are:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The kidneys produce erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. A complete blood count can reveal whether the red blood cell count is high, indicating polycythemia, or low, indicating anaemia.

Analysis of Blood Biochemistry

Blood biochemistry tests can help determine how well your kidneys are working. Kidney cancer can also have an impact on the levels of certain chemicals in your blood, such as liver enzymes and calcium.


Your doctor can use a urinalysis to see if there is blood in your urine. It may also reveal additional signs of infection.

Abdominal & Kidney Ultrasound

The size and shape of your kidneys can be measured using an abdominal ultrasound. If a tumour is present, its size and consistency may be revealed.

Renal Angiography

It is a procedure that examines the blood vessels in the kidney. Your doctor will thread a catheter up a large artery in your leg or groin to the renal artery during this test. A special dye will be injected into the artery. Following the injection of the dye, they will take a series of X-rays.  This allows your doctor to examine the blood supply to your kidneys in greater detail. The blood supply to a tumour can be seen if one is present.

Intravenous Pyelogram

A healthcare provider will inject a special dye into one of your veins during this test.The dye allows X-rays to see your kidneys more clearly. This test can assist your doctor in locating a tumour or obstruction.

Abdominal CT Scan

A CT scan is a non-invasive test that creates cross-sectional images of your body using X-rays. It enables viewing of the following:

  • bones

  • muscles

  • fat

  • organs

  • blood vessels

It can be used to determine whether or not cancer has spread beyond the kidney.

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Treatment Options for Kidney Cancer

The treatment for kidney cancer focuses on removing the tumour from your body. Typically, this is accomplished through surgery. Surgery can be either radical or conservative.

Radical Nephrectomy

A radical nephrectomy is a surgical procedure that removes your whole kidney. The entire organ is removed, as well as some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. The adrenal glands may also be removed.  The surgery can be performed through a large incision or with a laparoscope, which is a thin tube with a tiny camera at one end.

Conservative Nephrectomy

The tumour, lymph nodes, and some surrounding tissue are removed during a conservative nephrectomy. A portion of the kidney is preserved. A nephron-sparing nephrectomy is another name for this procedure. Tumor cells can also be killed by freezing, which is known as cryosurgery, or by applying heat, which is known as radiofrequency ablation.

Metastatic Kidney Cancer

Surgery alone will not cure metastatic kidney cancer. Other treatments may be required after surgery has removed as much of the tumour as possible. 

Immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy are examples of such treatments. Side effects may occur as a result of the treatments.


Immunotherapy employs synthetic versions of naturally occurring immuno-active chemicals. Drugs used in immunotherapy include interferon and aldesleukin (Proleukin).

Drugs with a Specific Purpose

Targeted drugs are intended to inhibit specific abnormal signals found in kidney cancer cells. Targeted drugs include the following:

  • Axitinib (Inlyta)

  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)

  • Pazopanib (Votrient)

  • Sorafenib (Nexavar)

  • Sunitinib (Sutent) 

These all drugs help to prevent the formation of new blood vessels that supply nutrients to cancer cells.

FAQ's Kidney Cancer

What are the types of kidney cancer?

There are three basic kinds of kidney cancers: clear cell, papillary, and chromophobe. Clear cell tumors account for 70% of all cases; papillary accounts for 20%; and chromophobe makes up 10%.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

This type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma. Their main job is to clean your blood, removing waste products and making urine. These are some other risk factors for kidney cancer Smoking. Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, cadmium, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides high blood pressure. The symptoms of kidney cancer depend on where the cancer starts. In general, however, signs include: painless swelling in the flank area near the kidneys

1. Bloody urine

2. A lump under the skin

3. Weight loss

4. Weakness

5. Fatigue

6. Loss of appetite

7. Fever

8. Unexplained pain in the back or sides

How Do I Know if My Kidney Has Been Affected by Kidney Cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, it is important to know how your kidneys are functioning. If they do not function properly, there may be signs that something is wrong and you should see a doctor right away. The following symptoms can indicate the presence of kidney problems:

• Blood in urine or stools

• Pain when urinating

• Swelling around one or both legs

• Weakness or fatigue

• Weight loss

What Are the Stages of Kidney Cancer?

This type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma. Their main job is to clean your blood, removing waste products and making urine. These are some other risk factors for kidney cancer Smoking. Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, cadmium, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides high blood pressure. Maybe you've had kidney cancer symptoms such as pain in your side, weight loss, or extreme fatigue. Regardless, to confirm a diagnosis of kidney cancer, you will need a thorough physical exam, health history, and tests.Your doctor will feel your abdomen and side for lumps and check for fever and high blood pressure, among other things. arteriogram. Unlike with many other cancers, your doctor may be pretty certain about a diagnosis of kidney cancer without a biopsy. The stages range from 0 to IV. Stage 0 means no evidence of cancer anywhere else in the body; this includes both localized and regional forms of kidney cancer. Stages 1 through 4 indicate different levels of spreading. In general, the earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the less advanced it is.

Stage 0 - Localized form of kidney cancer

Stage 1 - Regional form of kidney cancer

Stages 2 and 3 - Distant form of kidney cancer

Treatment Options for Kidney Cancer ?

The treatment options available to patients with kidney cancer depend on the type of tumor, how far it has spread and whether or not there are other health problems. The most common types of kidney tumors include: Renal cell carcinoma is a malignant neoplasm that originates in cells called renal tubular epithelial cells.

The Bottom Line

Kidney cancer can be tricky to diagnose early on. If you spot the three cardinal signs of a renal cell carcinoma - flank pain, flank mass, and hematuria - consult your doctor immediately. Also be aware of various paraneoplastic syndromes kidney cancer is notorious for, and intimate them to your physician.




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