Kidney Cancer

About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a disease that starts in the kidneys. It happens when healthy cells in one or both kidneys grow out of control and form a tumour. This cancer can develop in both adults and children. The main types of kidney cancer are renal cell cancer, transitional cell cancer and Wilms tumour.

There are many different options for treatment. Early detection increases the treatment options available to you. Your doctor can help you learn more about the pros and cons of treatments. Here we share more about the type of cancer kidney cancer is and the steps you can take if a mass forms in your body.


Causes of Kidney Cancer

Doctors don’t know the causes of kidney cancer. But certain factors appear to increase the risk of getting kidney cancer. For example, kidney cancer occurs most often in people older than age 40. These are some other risk factors for kidney cancer:

● Smoking.
● Being male. Men are about twice as likely as women to get kidney cancer.
● Being obese.
● Using certain pain medications for a long time. This includes over-the-counter drugs in addition to prescription drugs.
● Having advanced kidney disease or being on long-term dialysis.
● Having certain genetic conditions, such as inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma.
● Having a family history of kidney cancer. The risk is especially high in siblings.
● Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides
● Having high blood pressure.
● Being black. The risk in black people is slightly higher than in white people.
● Having lymphoma. For an unknown reason, there is an increased risk of kidney cancer in patients with lymphoma.

Having these risk factors does not mean you will get kidney cancer. And it’s also true that you
can have none of them and still get the disease.


Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

In the early stages, most people don’t have signs or symptoms. Kidney cancer is usually found by chance during an abdominal (belly) imaging test for other complaints. However, as the tumour grows, you may have:

● Blood in the urine
● Pain in the lower back that does not go away
● A lump in the lower back or side of the waist
● Unexplained weight loss, night sweats, fever, or fatigue
● Pain in the side between the ribs and hips
● Loss of appetite
● Fever that is not caused by an infection and does not go away
● Anaemia (low red blood cell count)


Prevention and Screening


Because doctors don’t know the causes of kidney cancer, it is not clear how to prevent the disease. However, certain factors are linked to kidney cancer, so you can take these steps to lower your risk:

Manage your blood pressure.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, which play a role in lowering or managing blood pressure.

Lower alcohol intake, or don’t drink.
If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to a glass a day for women and two for men.

Quit smoking.
Speak to your doctor about ways to quit smoking.

Maintain a healthy weight.
If you are at a healthy weight, work to remain at your current weight by combining a healthy diet with daily exercise. If you need to lose weight, ask your dietician and doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal.


Your doctor will diagnose kidney cancer by reviewing your medical history and doing a physical exam, along with blood and urine tests.

● CT scans use x-rays to make a complete picture of the kidneys and abdomen (belly). The CT scan often shows if a tumour appears cancerous or if it has spread beyond the kidney.
● MRI scans to make a complete picture of the kidneys and abdomen, but without radiation.
● Ultrasound uses sound waves to give a complete picture of the kidneys and abdomen without radiation. It may be useful in helping to decide if a mass in the kidneys is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid tumour.
● A biopsy can be used in special cases but is typically not recommended. A biopsy requires a very small piece of the kidney to be removed with a needle and then tested for cancer cells.

Once kidney cancer is found, your doctor will run tests to find out if the cancer has spread within the kidney or to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. It is important to know the stage before making a treatment plan. The higher the stage, the more dangerous and malignant the cancer.

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