Kidney Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Kidney cancer often goes unnoticed until it’s in advanced stages. A small tumor in the kidney may be painless and discovered accidentally during a sonogram. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include back pain, ranging from a dull ache to sharp stabbing pain below the ribs or on one side of the flank. Persistent pain lasting more than a few days should prompt a doctor’s visit to rule out kidney cancer.
The primary symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria), causing the urine to appear rusty or dark red
- A lump or mass in the kidney area or abdomen
- Recurrent fever
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Intestinal obstruction
- A general feeling of poor health
- Elevated blood pressure
- Recurrent urine or bladder infections
- In men, swollen veins around the right testicle
While these symptoms can also result from other conditions like a bladder infection or kidney disease, they could be warning signs of kidney cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
The potential causes and risk factors for kidney cancer include:
- Family history of kidney cancer
- Older age
- Male gender
- African American ethnicity
- Overweight or obesity
- Misuse of certain medications
- Exposure to specific chemicals like cadmium, herbicides, and solvents
- High blood pressure
- Advanced or chronic kidney disease
- Sickle cell trait (associated with renal medullary carcinoma)
- Long-lasting infection with hepatitis C
- Kidney stones
Stages of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is categorized into four stages:
- Stage I: Tumor confined to the kidney and up to 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) in diameter.
- Stage II: Tumor confined to the kidney but larger than stage I.
- Stage III: Tumor extends beyond the kidney into surrounding tissue, major veins, and nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread outside the kidney to lymph nodes or other organs like the bowel, pancreas, or lungs.
Additional tests, such as CT scans or other imaging, may be performed to determine cancer size and spread.
Treatment for kidney cancer depends on factors like cancer stage and location. Common treatments include:
- Surgery: Laparoscopic or robotic nephrectomy (partial or radical), open nephrectomy, or robot-assisted laparoscopic nephroureterectomy.
- Tumor Ablation: Techniques like cryotherapy and radiofrequency ablation to destroy tumors.
- Radiation Therapy: Alleviates symptoms, especially bone pain.
- Targeted Therapy: Medications that target specific cancer cells, slowing growth.
- Immunotherapy: Utilizes the body’s immune system to combat cancer.
At Prestige Medical Group, one of our providers can recommend the most suitable treatment based on your specific condition and needs. Regular check-ups and early detection are crucial for effective kidney cancer management.