When abnormal cells in one or both kidneys begin to divide and proliferate uncontrollably, kidney cancer begins to develop. The cells may spread to different parts of the body and develop into the tissues or organs in the vicinity. A tumor or mass is a growth that is abnormal in the body. A tumor or mass in the kidney shows an abnormal growth there. There are benign (non-cancerous) and malignant kidney masses (cancerous). Smaller lumps have a higher chance of being benign. The cancerous masses are mostly the larger lumps. While some tumors may advance slowly, others may advance more quickly or aggressively. Aggressive tumors can develop, spread, and enlarge very quickly.
Primary Categories of Tumors
About 40% of kidney growths are tiny, localized masses. Localized refers to a tumor that has not spread from its original location. Tumors fall into three primary categories:
Renal cell carcinomas (RCC)
They are the cancers of the renal cells (RCC). RCC forms the majority of malignant kidney tumors. Renal cell cancer, which starts in the lining of small tubes inside the kidney, is most prevalent in adults. RCC can develop in one kidney as a single tumor or in two or more kidneys as multiple tumors.
Benign kidney tumors
Around 20% of kidney tumors that are removed are benign. This class includes around nine identified tumors. Despite the fact that some of them can get fairly big, they are virtually always benign and do not spread to other organs.
The Wilms tumor
Wilms tumors are uncommon in adults and more frequently occur in children.
Risk factors of Kidney Cancer
The extent of smoking appears to have an impact on the risk of cancer. If you stop smoking, your risk decreases, but it takes a long time to reach the risk level of someone who has never smoked.
Extremely overweight people are more likely to get kidney cancer. Changes in several hormones brought on by obesity may result in kidney cancer
High blood pressure
Those with high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing kidney cancer. Even if a person takes medication to lower their high blood pressure, this risk does not appear to be reduced.
Family history of Kidney cancer
An increased risk of getting renal cell cancer exists in those with a significant family history of the disease. The risk increases if an immediate relative has cancer.
Exposure to harmful substances
Numerous studies have suggested that exposure to harmful chemicals, probably in workspaces such as trichloroethylene, may raise the chance of developing RCC.
Early signs and Symptoms
Early signs of kidney cancer can be very feeble and can go unnoticed. However, there are some signs and symptoms you should look out for, such as:
- Urine with blood
- Lumps on the back or sides
- Unexplained back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever that occurs very frequently
- Blood in cough
- Pain in the bones
Although kidney cancer (or another type of cancer) might induce these symptoms, other benign disorders may also cause similar symptoms. For instance, a kidney stone or a bladder or urinary tract infection are the most typical causes of blood in the urine. However, if you have any of these signs, you should consult a doctor so that the cause can be identified and, if necessary, addressed.
The major objective of treating kidney cancer is to rid you of the malignancy and, whenever possible, to safeguard kidney function. Protecting kidney function is very crucial for patients with one functioning kidney or kidney diseases.
While some people will never require surgery. Surgery could be the best option for certain people. The tumor may require a biopsy in some cases in order to determine how aggressive it might be. And after this, the appropriate treatment can be started.
Diagnosis of Kidney Cancer
There are several methods of diagnosis that are available to diagnose kidney cancer. The methods range from simple tests such as blood tests to cancer-specific diagnosis tests. These tests can help detect kidney cancer and undertake the necessary treatment methods.
Clinicians will assess whether the urine contains tumor cells using a sample of urine from normal urination.
With the use of a cystoscope, a small, illuminated, flexible tube, a doctor can perform a cystoscopy.
A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed for microscopic examination.
Computed tomography (CT or CAT) Scan
A process that uses many x-rays taken at various angles to provide a 3-dimensional image of the interior of the body.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Using magnetic fields rather than x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates detailed images of the body.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
Produces images of the body’s organs and tissues.
Using sound waves, ultrasound can produce an image of an internal organ.
It helps to check for higher amounts of specific proteins in the blood
Staging of Kidney Cancer
After kidney cancer diagnosis, your doctor will order tests to determine whether the disease has spread only to the kidney or other body areas. This is the staging procedure. Before deciding on a course of treatment, it is critical to understand the stage of cancer. The more advanced the cancer, the more serious it is. Hence, a more appropriate treatment plan will be necessary.
Stage I & Stage II
Cancers of any size that are restricted to the kidney are classified as stage I and stage II tumors.
These are cancers either include lymph nodes or are locally invasive (T3) (N1).
These cancers have metastasized outside the kidney to nearby (T4) or distant organs (M1).
The signs and symptoms of kidney cancer will vary for each patient, and the early symptoms can go unnoticed in many cases. If any of the above-mentioned symptoms prolong, it is important to consult a medical professional at the earliest. This will help in an early diagnosis, treatment and increased chances of cure and survival.