Cancer can strike seemingly anywhere in a person’s body. Anytime that cancerous cells start to grow out of control, it can form a tumor and is a danger to the person the cancer is within.
One very dangerous type of cancer is kidney cancer. Kidneys serve a vital function to the body, filtering out numerous substances from the blood and keeping people healthy.
The most common form of kidney cancer is known as renal cell carcinoma. This kind of cancer is responsible for around 90% of cases. The rest are rare cases. Some children can suffer from a rare form called Wilms' tumor. More people than ever are being diagnosed with kidney cancer. However, rather than it occuring more often, the diagnostic tools used to find it are more successful. Often, it’s discovered accidentally while looking for something else. Keep reading on to help learn more about kidney cancer!
Causes of Kidney Cancer
Unfortunately there is a limit to knowledge when it comes to kidney cancer. Like many cancers, the exact cause of the cells rapidly growing isn’t fully known. What is known about kidney cancer is the various risk factors that come into play. These risk factors increase the potential of getting kidney cancer. Factors which increase kidney cancer risk include:
- Smoking - This certainly increases the risk of many types of cancer, but quitting can reduce the potential of kidney cancer.
- Weight - People who are obese are more likely to get kidney cancer.
- Age - People are more at risk for kidney cancer as they get older.
- Hypertension - Extreme cases of high blood pressure is a risk factor.
- Family History - People who have seen their family members get kidney cancer are at a higher risk of also getting it.
- Chemicals - Some substances people are exposed to while they are working can increase the risk of kidney cancer. Consistent exposure to herbicides can be one reason.
- Dialysis - People who are struggling with kidney failure and are on dialysis for a long period of time will be more likely to get kidney cancer.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
One of the biggest problems with kidney cancer is that there are very few symptoms during the early stages of it. This means that detection is more difficult, and often needs to happen accidentally thanks to other conditions. As kidney cancer and renal cell carcinoma get more intense, there are some symptoms which can occur. These include:
- Discolored Urine - Blood will typically color urine pink, red or brown.
- Loss of Appetite - People with kidney cancer may not want to eat anything. This is sometimes combined with some unexplained and unexpected weight loss as well.
- Constant Pain - This is a consistent and troubling pain that occurs in a person’s back and side spreading out from the kidney area.
- Fever - This fever can appear suddenly without really having a reason, then leave again, before it reappears.
- Fatigue - Many people can feel tired, or severe fatigue consistently if they have kidney cancer.
Any signs or symptoms should result in a quick visit to the doctors office so they can check things out.
Treating Kidney Cancer
When it comes to kidney cancer, surgery tends to be the first treatment option. There are different surgeries depending on the health of the patient, the kind of cancer and severity of the cancer. There’s two main options. The first one is all about removing the tumor from the kidney. The goal is to remove the tumor while keeping the kidney healthy and capable of functioning. The second alternative is known as a nephrectomy. The entire kidney will be removed. It’s not ideal, but better than allowing the cancer to continue to grow.
There are other treatments as well. Cryoablation is a treatment for smaller kidney cancer tumors. A needle is infused into the body and then cold gas is used to freeze the cancer cells. Alternatively to that is radiofrequency ablation. Heat is applied through electrical currents. This can cause the cancerous tumor to burn. There are other options for the most serious and recurring forms of kidney cancer as well.