What are Some of the Important Facts about Kidney Cancer?
The most common kidney cancer is called Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC).
Worldwide, over 100,000 people die of RCC each year. Renal cell carcinoma is the seventh most common cancer and tenth most common cause of cancer-related deaths among men.
Overall, approximately 2-3% of all cancers are Renal Cell Carcinomas.
Renal Cell Carcinomas make up 80 - 85% of all primary renal cancer in adults.
Kidney cancer can be categorized into numerous different types based on the presence of the cancer cells under a microscope (this is called the microscopic appearance or microscopy), and other genetic factors.
There are some types of renal cell cancer that can be recognized by looking at the cancer cells under a microscope.
Translocation carcinomas are a type of RCC that occur in children who have received chemotherapy for malignancy, bone marrow transplant preparation, or autoimmune disorders.
With some of the information, you have the power to save your kidneys.
Kidney Facts from the National Kidney Foundation:
I. Types of Kidney Cancer
There are two main types of kidney cancer: Renal Cell Cancer and Transitional Cell Cancer. The most common type of adult kidney cancer is renal cell cancer.
- Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for approximately 85% of all malignant kidney tumors. In RCC, cancerous (malignant) cells develop in the lining of the kidney tubules and grow into a mass called a tumor.
Like many other cancers, the growth begins small and grows larger over time. RCC typically grows as a single mass.
However, there are cases where a kidney may cover more than one tumor, or tumors are found in both kidneys at the same time.
Renal cell cancer may metastasize, which means it may spread to other parts of the body, most often the bones or lungs.
About 30 percent of those who are diagnosed with renal cell cancer develop advanced (metastatic) disease.
- Transitional Cell Cancer: Cancer that forms in transitional cells in the lining of the bladder, ureters, or renal pelvis (the part of the kidney that collects, holds, and drains urine).
Transitional cells are cells that can change shape and stretch without breaking apart.
II. The Signs and Symptoms:
In the early stages, renal cell cancer usually causes no clear signs or symptoms. CT scans and ultrasounds done for other reasons often find kidney cancers.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer are as follows:
- Blood in the urine: This is the most common symptom of kidney cancer. Doctors call this hematuria. About half of the people diagnosed with kidney cancer will have this symptom when they first go to the doctor.
- A lump or mass in the kidney area: If you feel a lump or swelling in the area of your kidneys, consult with your doctor. Most kidney cancers are too small for a doctor to feel. A high temperature and moisture can be caused by an infection, and your doctor may want to rule this out first.
- High blood pressure and having fewer red blood cells than normal (anemia) can also be symptoms of kidney cancer. These symptoms are related to the hormones that the kidneys produce.
These symptoms can also be caused by less serious problems such as a benign (non-cancerous) cyst or an infection. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your physician or health care clinician.
III. The Risk Factors:
The exact cause of kidney cancer is unclear, but having advanced chronic kidney disease may place you at increased risk for developing kidney cancer.
Although we do not know all the causes of kidney cancer, the following issues may raise the risk of developing this disease:
- Age: The risk of kidney cancer significantly increases with age, most kidney cancers occur in people over 45 years of age with the highest incidences between the ages of 55 and 84.
- Smoking: The risk increases the longer you smoke and decreases after you quit, although it takes years to grasp the same risk level as someone who has never smoked.
- Obesity: Studies have found a robust link between excess weight (in both men and women) and renal cell carcinoma.
- High Blood Pressure: Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing renal cell carcinoma. The risk is even better if you are also overweight.
- Heredity: Tuberous sclerosis (a disease characterized by several bumps on the skin, seizures, mental retardation, and cysts in the kidneys, liver and pancreas) and von Hippel-Lindau disease (a disease caused by a genetic mutation that leads to multiple tumors in the kidney, often at an early age) are both associated with an increased risk of developing kidney tumors.
To find kidney cancer, your health care provider may order blood and urine testing in addition to imaging of the kidneys and nearby organs.
These may consist of a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound or special X-rays that can show if a tumor exists and can help tell whether it is cancerous or not.
Having kidney cancer treatment places you at enlarged risk for developing chronic kidney disease, even if you don't already have kidney disease.
It's important to work with your health care team - specialists and primary care practitioners alike - to monitor your kidney function over time. This way if there are any changes in your kidney function you will be able to detect them early.