Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that effects your kidneys, which are located behind your stomach, in your lower back just below your ribs. There are two of them and they are each about the size of your fist. They are important organs and you can exist with only one kidney but if you lose them both, that is not the case. Your kidneys are part of the urinary system and serve an important part in the process of waste removal in your body.
They are also part of the process of red blood cell production and work to control blood pressure. Each kidney is a package of many small filtering units, called “nephrons”. Kidney transplants are a fairly common operation now and it is possible for a person to donate one of their kidneys and live the rest of their lives, using the one remaining kidney. Just like any other organ in your body, your kidneys can develop cancer.
In its early stages, kidney cancer very rarely shows any symptoms, so unless it is detected by a doctor, by a urinalysis test, the chances of a person noticing anything unusual, or out of the ordinary, relating to the cancer, are very slim. Children and adults tend to develop two different types of kidney cancer. The type that adults are most likely to develop is called (renal adenocarcinoma) and the type of kidney cancer that children are most likely to develop is called (Wilm’s tumor).
In its later stages, when it generally does start to show some physical symptoms, these symptoms will tend to be as follows. Noticeable blood in the urine. It is possible to have blood in your urine in such small quantity that it is not noticeable to the naked eye. Small amounts of blood can be detected by a doctor by testing the urine for blood. Another symptom of kidney cancer is a loss in weight.
Some people can tend to see weight loss as a blessing. Particularly weight loss that has occurred through no effort. Sudden unaccounted for weight loss however is a symptom of many types of cancer and diseases. So unless a person has made an effort to lose weight, it is wise to view unaccounted for weight loss, particularly large weight loss that occurs suddenly, with some measure of concern. Another symptom of kidney cancer is back pain that doesn’t seem to go away.
Like so many other cancers, an early detection is a key to a full recovery. The longer a cancer, like kidney cancer, remains undetected the better the chance it has to spread to other parts of your body. When a cancer spreads to another part of your body it is said to “metastasize”. If detected early though, the chances for a full recovery are very good. There are several forms of treatment for kidney cancer and what stage the cancer is in, can be a major determinating factor in what type of treatment is used to attack the cancer.
In the past, surgery for kidney cancer involved the removal of the entire kidney. Research has led to a change of procedure in recent years. It was determined that by removing only the tumor and leaving the kidney intact, when it was possible, the patient faced a lesser chance of kidney failure and an increased quality of life after the treatment.
Another type of treatment for kidney cancer is referred to as “arterial embolization”. This is a procedure where the vessel that supplies blood to the cancerous kidney is blocked. Other treatments include radiation therapy and chemo therapy and immunotherapy, which uses your bodies own immune system to fight the cancer.