Considering Your Risk For Kidney Cancer

Considering your risk for kidney cancer is probably something you don’t want to do…But…

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 58,240 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer (also called Renal Cell Carcinoma) in 2010.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

  1. The stage of the disease.
  2. The patient’s age and general health.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They lie in your lower abdomen, on each side of your spine. NHS Heroes Their main job is to clean your blood, removing waste products and making urine.

Kidney cancer – also called renal cancer or renal cell carcinoma — is a disease in which kidney cells become malignant (cancerous) and grow out of control, forming a tumor which can grow very large before it’s found.

The good news is that most of these cancers are found before they spread (metastasize) to distant organs, and cancers caught early are easier to treat successfully.

While the specific causes of kidney cancer are not known, certain factors, such as age (most occur after age 50), seem to increase the risk of getting it.

Other Risk Factors:

  1. Smoking: If you smoke cigarettes, your risk for kidney cancer is twice that of a nonsmoker. Smoking cigars may also increase your risk.
  2. Being male. Men are about twice as likely as women to get kidney cancer.
  3. Being obese. Extra weight may cause changes to hormones that increase your risk.
  4. Using certain pain medications for a long time. This includes over-the-counter drugs in addition to prescription drugs.
  5. Having advanced kidney disease or being on long-term dialysis (a treatment for people with kidneys that have stopped working).
  6. Having certain genetic conditions, or inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma.
  7. Having a family history of kidney cancer. The risk is especially high in siblings.
  8. Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, cadmium, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides
  9. Having high blood pressure. Researchers are working to understand whether having high blood pressure or the medication used to treat it, is the source of the increased risk.
  10. Having lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes).  For an unknown reason, there is an increased risk of kidney cancer in patients with lymphoma.
Having these risk factors does not mean you will get kidney cancer. And it’s also true that you can have none of them and still get the disease.

In many cases, people may have no early symptoms of kidney cancer, then as the tumor grows larger, symptoms may appear. The most commonly identified symptoms include:

*Blood in your urine

*A lump in your side or abdomen

*A loss of appetite

*A pain in your side that doesn’t go away

*Weight loss that occurs for no known reason

*Fever that lasts for weeks and isn’t caused by a cold or other infection

*Extreme fatigue


*Swelling in your ankles or legs

Kidney cancer that spreads to other parts of your body may cause other symptoms, such as:

*Shortness of breath

*Coughing up blood

*Bone pain

Surgery is the first option for the removal of the cancerous tumor (s). You can survive with just a part of one kidney as long as it is still working.  If the surgeon removes both kidneys or if both kidneys are not working, you will need a machine to clean your blood (dialysis) or a new kidney (kidney transplant).

The type of surgery performed depends on how advanced the cancer is.

> A “radical nephrectomy” removes the kidney, the adrenal gland, and the surrounding tissue. It also often removes nearby lymph nodes. It is the most common surgery for kidney cancer and can now be done through a small incision with a laparoscope.

> A “simple nephrectomy”  removes only the kidney.

> A “partial nephrectomy” removes the cancer in the kidney, along with some tissue around it. This procedure is used for patients with smaller tumors (less than 4 cm) or for patients in which a radical nephrectomy might hurt the other kidney.

If surgery can’t remove your kidney cancer, your doctor may suggest another option to help destroy the tumor.

*Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to kill the tumor.

*Radio-frequency ablation uses high-energy radio waves to “cook” the tumor.

*Arterial embolization involves inserting material into an artery that leads to the kidney. This blocks blood flow to the tumor. This procedure may be done to help shrink the tumor before surgery.

*Biologic therapy for kidney cancer: This therapy uses your immune system to fight cancer by boosting, directing, or restoring your body’s natural defenses.

*Targeted therapy: This therapy uses drugs or other substances to find and target cancer cells without harming normal cells.

  • Radiation therapy: Often used to help with symptoms of kidney cancer or in patients who cannot have surgery, this treatment uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or halt their growth. External radiation therapy sends radiation to the cancer from a machine outside the body.

*Chemotherapy: This therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from multiplying. Less effective for kidney cancer than for other types of cancer, chemotherapy is used when other types of treatment do not work well.

Because doctors don’t know the causes of kidney cancer, it is not clear how to prevent the disease. However, certain factors are linked to kidney cancer, so you can take certain steps to lower your risk.

If you consider the basic medical advice given to prevent or lessen the complications of most major physical conditions,  you’ll recognize the  common thread for good health… stop smoking, keep up a healthy weight, manage your blood pressure, and avoid being exposed to harmful chemicals.