What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidneys are bean-sized organs located behind either side of the spine. They filter out waste from the blood and make urine. When there is abnormal growth of cells in the kidney, it causes kidney cancer. There are various types of kidney cancers that can take place.
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How Common is Kidney Cancer?
In India, the estimated cases of kidney cancers are 2/1,00,000 in males and in females it is 1/1,00,000.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Kidney Cancer?
There are a few inherited conditions that can cause kidney cancer. Some of them include von Hippel-Lindau disease and hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma.
The exact cause of kidney cancer is still unknown.
There are some risk factors of the same:
- Smokers are at a higher risk of developing kidney cancer as smoking increases the risk of any kind of cancer
- People who suffer from hypertension are also at a higher risk
- People with a family history of any type of kidney cancer are more susceptible to it
- Obesity is another risk factor in this disease
- The risk of kidney cancer grows with age; older people are more prone to it than youngsters
- Men are at higher risk of developing kidney cancer than women
- Having any history of kidney disease can also put you at risk of developing kidney cancer in the later stages
- Being exposed to toxins can also cause the disease
What are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer doesn’t present with any symptoms in the early stages. As cancer progresses, a few symptoms may show up:
- Recurring fever
- Unexplained weight loss
- Flank pain, which refers to discomfort in the upper abdomen or back or sides
- Unexplained anemia
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent back pain, especially below the ribs
- Blood in urine
- A mass in the abdomen that can be felt
How is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?
- Urine and blood investigations
- MRI, Ultrasound and CT scan
How is Kidney Cancer Treated?
1. Surgery: Surgery can be conservative or radical.
- Radical nephrectomy: This procedure involves removing the entire kidney with surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. The adrenal gland may also be removed. The surgery is done either through a large incision or with a laparoscope (minimally invasive), which contains a camera in the end.
- Conservative nephrectomy: In this procedure, part of the kidney is left behind and only the tumor with some surrounding tissues and lymph nodes is removed. Tumor cells can also be killed cryosurgery, which involves applying freezing gas to kill the cancer cells, or through radiofrequency ablation, which involves applying heat.
2. Immunotherapy: It involves drugs that use synthetic versions of immune-active chemicals found in the body. It helps in limiting the spread of cancer.
3. Palliative care: Palliative care is provided in advanced stages of kidney cancer. The intention is to ensure that the patient lives a life of quality with better pain management.
Treatment is provided as per the stage of cancer. A lot of treatment options of given in conjunction with each other.
What are the Complications of Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer can cause a lot of complications in the body. Since the kidneys are responsible for filtering blood, kidney cancer may lead to an imbalance of certain substances in the blood. Sometimes, it can cause an increase in the red blood cells, while the other times, the tumour can cause bleeding through urine, resulting in a decrease in the blood count. Some people may also face high calcium levels.
There is also the risk of the tumour spreading to other areas of the body when not diagnosed and treated in time.
What are the Lifestyle Changes Required to Manage Kidney Cancer?
- Quit Smoking: Smoking introduces toxins in the body that the kidney has to overwork to remove. This further decreases the efficiency of the kidneys.
- Reduce the risk of infection: Cancer treatment can reduce immunity and it becomes easier to catch infections. It is suggested to wash your hands before every meal, keep your surroundings clean and ask your doctor about immunizations against flu and pneumonia.
- Eat well: Eating nutritious foods, full of fiber, fruits, and vegetables and avoiding oily food can help the body recover faster and heal. It also elevates mood and increases overall energy.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise boosts immunity and lifts the spirits apart from promoting overall fitness. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
- Manage fatigue: Prioritize tasks to avoid getting tired. Find out ways to de-stress and manage
- Seek support: Join support groups to tackle anxiety and to stay motivated.
How Can You Take Care of Someone with Kidney Cancer?
- Provide them emotional support and care
- Ensure they visit their doctor for regular check-ups
- Ensure they get some exercise every day and eat well.
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