Most cancers are named after the part of the body where the cancer first begins, and kidney cancer is no exception. As kidney cancer grows, it may invade organs near the kidney. Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys two large, bean-shaped organs one located to the left, and the other to the right of the backbone. Some of the areas it affects are the liver , colon, and pancreas . Renal is the Latin word for kidney, and kidney cancer may also be referred to as renal cancer.
In the United States, kidney cancer accounts for approximately 3% of all adult cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, about 32,000 new cases are diagnosed and about 12,000 people die from the disease annually. Kidney cancer occurs most often in people between the ages of 50 and 70, and affects men almost twice as often as women.
Kidney cancer cells may also break away from the original tumor and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. When kidney cancer spreads, cancer cells may appear in the lymph nodes.
Causes of Kidney Cancer
Very little is known about the causes of cancer of the kidney. Research has shown that cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing cancer of the kidney. This cancer has also been linked to particular materials used in some industries, including cadmium, asbestos and lead (used in paints).
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney failure or high blood pressure (hypertension), may also increase the risk of developing cancer of the kidney.
Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages, kidney cancer usually causes no obvious signs or troublesome symptoms. As a kidney tumor grows, symptoms may occur. These may include:
* Blood in the urine. In some cases, blood is visible. In other instances, traces of blood are detected in a urinalysis, a lab test often performed as part of a regular medical checkup.
* A lump or mass in the kidney area.
Treatment of Kidney Cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells, and is also sometimes used to relieve pain when kidney cancer has spread to the bone.
Biological therapy is a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.
You may hear about different kinds of treatment from your family and friends. You can find people who will offer all sorts of things, such as vitamins, herbs, stress reduction, acupuncture, and more. There is a great deal of interest today in complementary and alternative treatments for cancer. Before changing your treatment or adding any of these methods, be sure to talk to your doctor or nurse. Some methods can be safely used along with standard medical treatment. Others, however, can interfere with standard treatment or cause serious side effects. That is why it’s important to talk openly with your doctor.
Although the following steps may not prevent kidney cancer, they can help reduce your cancer risk and keep you healthier overall:
* Quit smoking.
* Eat more fruits and vegetables.
* Stay physically active.
* Maintain a healthy weight.