Kidneys are designed to perform one of the most important bodily functions of processing waste and eliminating fluids from your bloodstream. Kidney functions also control the production of red blood cells and help maintain optimum blood pressure levels.
Renal cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of kidney cancers that results in the growth of cancerous cells that eventually form a tumor. A process known as metastasis affects nearby organs and spreads cancerous cells that grow out of control.
Causes of kidney cancer
It is difficult to narrow down a specific problem that can lead to complications that result in kidney cancer, among the usual suspects.
- Being overweight can lead to a hormonal imbalance that results in abnormal kidney function
- Side effects of prescription or over-the-counter pain medications after prolonged use
- Genetic conditions like Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome or papillary renal cell carcinoma that can be passed down generations
- Long-term exposure to chemicals such as asbestos, cadmium, and benzene
- High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for a developing renal carcinoma condition
It is imperative to understand the varied symptoms of kidney cancer to determine viable alternatives for a targeted treatment approach. Cancerous cells can rapidly spread, which is why timely diagnosis can help in treating and, in some cases, preventing further complications caused by the condition. Common symptoms of kidney cancer include the following.
- Blood in urine
- A lump in the back near the kidneys
- Persistent fever and night sweats
- Loss of appetite, leading to excessive weight loss
- Anemia, i.e., reduced red blood cell count
Treatments for kidney cancer
Depending on the stage and severity, the treatments for kidney cancer will vary. Common surgical procedures include simple, partial, and radical nephrectomy. Survival with just one or part of your kidneys is possible, which is why most surgical procedures involve the removal of this organ as part of the treatment.
It is a procedure recommended for smaller cancerous tumors where only the affected kidney tissue is removed.
The entire kidney is removed during this surgical procedure.
Along with the removal of your kidney, the surrounding tissue, adrenal glands, and lymph nodes are removed. Although in most cases of cancer, surgical removal of the cancerous cells is done, there are other treatment options depending on how advanced the medical condition is. It is also one of the most common surgical treatments for kidney cancer.
Alternative treatments for kidney cancer that do not involve partial or complete removal of your kidneys are as follows.
- Chemotherapy uses targeted radiation to destroy the cancerous cells
- Targeted therapy with the use of anti-angiogenic agents keeps the blood vessels from feeding the tumor
- Biological therapy uses your immune system to fight the cancer and stop it from spreading
- Blocking of the flow of blood to the tumor by arterial embolization
- The use of high energy radio waves to tackle the tumor
- Cryotherapy involves the use of extremely low temperatures to kill the cancerous cells