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How Does Cancer Affect the Kidney?

What is cancer?

A group of more than a hundred related disorders that cause the unchecked proliferation of abnormal cells in the affected organs collectively falls under the umbrella term “cancer.”

One trillion cells make up the human body; these are the “building blocks of life” and the fundamental structural components of all living things. These cells multiply and expand to create new ones. They die when they get old or injured, and new cells sprout in their stead.

Cancer occurs if this rhythm is disturbed by genetic alterations. 

While new cells proliferate, the injured and old ones remain alive, leading to an unchecked expansion of aberrant cells. These cells’ unceasing cell division may result in tissue aggregates that develop into tumors. These might be malignant or benign. If the tumor is benign, it can enlarge but does not spread. Most of the time, this is removable and might not grow back. The tumor may spread to other bodily parts if it is cancerous. This process, known as metastasis, puts life in jeopardy since the cancer may move to crucial organs like the brain, lungs, liver, etc. and harm the essential processes required to maintain life.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer starts to form when abnormal cells in one or both kidneys start to divide and proliferate uncontrollably. The cells may circulate throughout the body and grow into the tissues or organs nearby. A mass or tumor is an unnatural growth in the body. A kidney mass or tumor reveals an abnormal growth there. Kidney masses can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Smaller lumps are more likely to be benign. The larger lumps are typically the malignant tumors. Some tumors might grow slowly, but others might develop more swiftly or aggressively. Tumors that are aggressive can grow, spread, and expand very quickly.

The majority of kidney tumors—about 40%—are small, localized tumors. A tumor is referred to as localized if it has not spread from its initial site. The three main types of tumors are as follows:

Renal cell carcinomas (RCC)

The majority of malignant kidney tumors are RCCs. Adults are most likely to develop renal cell carcinoma, which begins in the lining of tiny tubes inside the kidney. RCC can manifest as a single tumor in one kidney or as many tumors in two or more kidneys.

Benign kidney tumors

Around 20% of excised kidney tumors are benign. About nine malignancies have been found in this class. Although some of them can grow rather large, they almost always remain benign and do not spread to other organs.

The Wilms tumor

Wilms tumors are less common in adults and more common in kids.

Effects of Cancer on the kidney

There are different effects that cancer and cancer treatment has on the body. The effects or the symptoms of cancer on the body, may be lighter, when compared to the effects of the treatment. 

Symptoms and signs of cancer

The following signs or symptoms may be present in people with kidney cancer. Changes in your body that you may feel are known as symptoms. Changes in something measured, such as your blood pressure or the results of a lab test, are signs. Together, signs and symptoms can be used to characterize a medical condition. Some kidney cancer patients exhibit none of the warning signs and symptoms listed below. In some instances, a medical disease other than cancer may be the origin of a symptom or sign.

  • Urine with blood in it
  • back or side pressure or discomfort
  • a bulge or bulk in the back or side
  • the legs and ankles becoming swollen
  • elevated blood pressure
  • Low red blood cell count, or anemia
  • Fatigue
  • reduced appetite
  • Unaccounted-for weight loss
  • Recurring fever that is not caused by a cold, the flu, or another infection
  • A big kidney tumor may be present in the testicles if a varicocele, or group of expanded veins, rapidly develops around a testicle, particularly the right testicle.

Effects of cancer treatment

The Types of Therapy section describes typical physical adverse effects associated with each kidney cancer treatment strategy. Find out more about the side effects of cancer, its treatment, and how to stop or manage them. Your overall health, the stage of cancer, the length and intensity of therapy, and other variables all affect how your physical health will change. Discuss your feelings frequently with your medical staff. It is crucial to inform them of any new negative effects or modifications to already-existing side effects. 

Knowing how you are feeling will help them find strategies to alleviate or manage your side effects, making you feel more at ease and possibly preventing any side effects from getting worse. Keeping track of your side effects will make it simpler for you to communicate any changes to your medical team.

Physical side effects might occasionally linger even after treatment has ended. Physicians refer to this as long-term adverse effects. Side effects that manifest months or years after therapy are referred to as late effects. An essential component of survivorship care is treating late symptoms and long-term side effects. Read the part of this guide on follow-up care or speak to your doctor to learn more.


Each patient’s signs and symptoms of kidney cancer will differ, and the early symptoms frequently go unreported. It is crucial to seek medical advice as soon as possible if any of the aforementioned symptoms persist. It is also important to keep in close touch with your health care team, in order to effectively manage any effect that the disease and its treatment might have on your body. Early diagnosis, effective treatment, and improved prospects of recovery and survival will all be aided by this.

Expert Guidance from Cancer Coach

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