The importance of the kidney as an organ is incredibly inevitable. This organ is so incredible that its continuous functionality of getting waste out and maintaining balance in the body is not even felt while one goes about the day.
Usually, there are two kidneys in every human body and their main function is to produce urine. As the key constituents of the urine are maintained by the kidneys, they regulate the electrolytes and fluids, balance acid and base in the body, and expel the waste. Damage in kidneys results in their impaired functionality of them and hence dialysis might be needed to compensate.
Kidney cancer, interpretation
Kidney cancers are categorized as the ten most common types of cancer. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. It is a collection of different types of tumors each derived from the various parts of the kidney cell showing certain genetic characteristics and histological features. The tendency of this type of kidney cancer to spread through the lymph nodes to other body parts is common after it gets metastasized. The root cause of renal carcinoma though remains unknown; certain risk factors are speculated to result in the increased chances of developing it.
- Prolonged kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Male gender
- African American race
- Certain medications
Symptoms of kidney cancer
Averagely this type of cancer does not produce any early symptoms or for most of its course. For about 10 percent of the patients suffering from kidney cancer present with a classic triad of symptoms, which are, flank pain, blood in the urine, and abdominal lump. Other than this, some signs and symptoms of kidney cancer are as follows:
- Night sweats
- High blood pressure
- Unexpected weight loss
- Swelling in legs
After metastasizing, renal carcinoma can develop certain symptoms by affecting other organs. Some of the symptoms are:
- Blood coughing
- Joint pains
Renal cell carcinoma is attached to a number of paraneoplastic syndromes which occur due to the hormones produced by tumors or by the response of the body to attack the tumor. For about 20 percent of the patients following paraneoplastic syndromes are present:
- Increased blood calcium level
- Increase in red blood cell count
- Increase in platelet count
- Amyloidal protein deposition in organ systems
Diagnosis of kidney cancer
Signs, symptoms, and past medical roles play significant parts in the diagnosis of kidney cancers. On the grounds of symptoms, a variety of biochemical tests suffices to provide diagnostic hints about kidney cancers. Some of the important tests for diagnosing kidney cancers are as follows:
- MRI: is used to diagnose different types of mass
- Ultrasound: is used to differentiate between benign and malignant tumors in the kidney
- X-ray: is used to identify the vessels that promote the growth of the tumor in the kidney by feeding it.
- CT scan: helps the doctor to capture the tumor in the kidney.
- Some blood and urine tests give some hints about the cause of the symptoms of the patient.
- Renal biopsy: a small piece of the kidney tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. It helps to understand the doctor the cause of kidney disease, the intensity of kidney scarring, and how much of the kidney disease is irreversible. The symptoms under which the doctor will demand a biopsy are if; the patient has protein or blood in the urine and if the kidneys are significantly not removing toxins from the blood. Certain steps are to be followed before kidney biopsy such as not eating after midnight, avoiding blood thinners, and avoiding fish oil and NSAIDs. Through biopsy, the intensity or the grade of cancer is known if any are found.
After identifying the portion of the kidney containing cancer, the next protocol is to identify the stage of cancer which might be determined by some additional imaging tests.
Kidney cancer stages
Stage 1: 7 cm or under that size of a tumor localized in the kidney only
Stage 2: Tumor larger than 7 cm but not metastasized to spread through other organs and lymph nodes
Stage 3: Tumor of any arbitrarily sized metastasized enough to spread through lymph nodes but not to any other part
Tumors spread through the main veins and perinephric tissue but do not spread to other parts of the body
Stage 4: Regions beyond Gerota’s fascia have been involved by the tumor which has already made its way to the adrenal gland and lymph nodes
Tumors spread to other vital organs such as the lungs, bones, or brain.
Treatment of kidney cancer
The management of kidney tumors is often care taken by a urologist, however, the care for kidney cancers is multidisciplinary and involves specialists such as radiologists, pathologists, oncologists, radiation oncology, etc. the treatments for kidney cancer include:
- Surgery known as nephrectomy is a standard option to physically remove the tumor from the kidney while preserving the healthy normal kidney as much as possible. If the masses are larger enough to not be able to be taken out without the kidney, then removal of the entire kidney is considered to be the best treatment option.
- Cancer Ablation procedure, where a needle is placed into the mass providing temperature to the tissue to either heat or freeze it to destroy the tissue. It is a very minimally invasive procedure
- In cases of metastasized kidney cancers, if there is a possibility of cancer coming back, some additional procedures are done such as removal of the lymph nodes in the primary area of drainage
- For advanced tumors, treatment becomes highly multidisciplinary involving multiple specialties and their treatment such as:
- Surgery by urologist
- drug therapy by oncologists
- radiation therapy by radiologists for regions such as bones or the brain
The goal of treatment of any type or stage of kidney tumor is to cure a potential kidney cancer and preserve as much health as possible to provide the best quality of life a patient can have.
Who is at risk for kidney cancer?
People who smoke, have a family history of kidney cancer, have a history of certain genetic conditions, or have been exposed to certain chemicals or substances may be at a higher risk for kidney cancer.
What are the treatment options for kidney cancer?
Treatment options for kidney cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. The specific treatment will depend on the type and stage of the cancer.
What is the prognosis for kidney cancer?
The prognosis for kidney cancer depends on factors such as the stage of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. In general, if kidney cancer is caught early and treated promptly, the prognosis is good.
How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
Kidney cancer is typically diagnosed through imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound. A biopsy may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.