Kidney cancer is a serious and potentially deadly disease that can cause symptoms that are easy to overlook. To ensure early diagnosis, it’s important to be aware of the principal signs and symptoms of kidney cancer, so you can seek medical help if needed.
Kidney Cancer Causes
There are few different types of cancer of the kidneys, each with its own set of risk factors. The most common one is known as renal cell carcinoma, which occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in the kidneys. Other types include transitional cell carcinoma, Wilms’ tumor, and sarcoma. Risk factors for these cancers may include older age, smoking, obesity, hypertension and exposure to certain environmental toxins or radiation. Research suggests that some genetic mutations may also increase your risk for kidney cancer. Additionally, people with a family history of kidney cancer or certain inherited conditions such as tuberous sclerosis or Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome may be more likely to develop the disease.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer can affect people of any age, but there are certain signs and symptoms that are more commonly associated with the condition. These include:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Constant or recurring lower back or flank pain
- Unexplained weight loss or persistent lack of appetite
- Abdominal mass or lump in the abdomen
- Fever of unknown origin
- Swelling of the ankles and feet due to poor circulation
Why Early Diagnosis is Important
Early diagnosis of kidney cancer is important for several reasons. If the cancer is caught in its early stages, it may be easier to treat and may have a better prognosis. Furthermore, early detection can help prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Early diagnosis also helps doctors develop an effective treatment plan for you, based on your unique situation and needs.
Kidney Cancer Survival Rates
Survival rates for people with kidney cancer vary depending on the stage at which it is diagnosed. When cancer has not spread beyond the kidney, the five-year survival rate is approximately 95%. However, if it has spread to other organs such as the lungs or liver, that rate drops to about 30-60%. People with advanced stages of kidney cancer have a five-year survival rate of less than 10%.
Depending on the stage of your cancer, there are a number of treatment options available. These may include surgery to remove the tumor or part of the kidney, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, or immunotherapy. In some cases, clinical trials may be recommended for people with advanced kidney cancer. Your healthcare team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
Research into Kidney Cancer
There is a lot of ongoing research into kidney cancer and new treatments are being developed all the time. Scientists are using tools like a renal cell carcinoma tumor model in xenograft studies and looking at how to target specific genes that may play a role in the development and progress of kidney cancer. Other studies are looking at ways to improve existing treatments, such as identifying drugs that can reduce side effects or prevent a recurrence of the disease.
Kidney cancer is a serious but often treatable disease. Knowing the risk factors and getting regular check-ups can help to catch the disease early, increasing your chances of successful treatment and better outcomes.