Overview

Kidney cancer or renal cancer is a disease of the kidney cells that may form benign or malignant tumor. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common kidney cancer in adults, and it affects the tiny tubes of the kidneys. Men are more predisposed to kidney cancer than women and it appears mostly at the age of 50 to 70.

Causes

The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown. There are certain factors that may increase the risk of kidney cancer. These include:

  • prolonged dialysis treatment for chronic kidney failure
  • family history
  • high blood pressure
  • polycystic kidney disease
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome: a hereditary disease

Sometimes occupational exposure to certain substances and chemicals may also increase the risk of kidney cancer.

Symptoms

The symptoms of kidney cancer include

  • blood in the urine that may be pink, red or rust coloured
  • constant back pain just below the ribs
  • lump in the side of the abdomen
  • unreasonable weight loss
  • fatigue
  • intermittent fever and swelling in the ankle and legs

Other symptoms such as excessive hair growth in females, pale skin and vision problems may also develop. If the cancer spreads to the other parts of the body, it may be characterized by symptoms such as coughing up blood, shortness of breath, and bone pain.

Diagnosis

When a person presents with the symptoms of kidney cancer, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination to determine the patient’s general health and check for the presence of any mass or swelling in the abdomen.

Other tests, such as blood, urine test or intravenous pyelogram (IVP), may be ordered to investigate the presence of abnormalities in the kidneys. Advanced imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan or ultrasound of the abdomen and kidney may be performed to visualize any tumour or abnormality.
The doctor may also order a biopsy, bone scan and chest X-ray to determine the spread of the malignancy of the tumour.

Stages

From the diagnostic tests, the doctor will be able to determine the stage of the kidney cancer. The severity of kidney cancer is characterized into 4 stages:

Stage 1: Cancer is completely embedded in the kidney and is less than 7 cm across

Stage 2: Cancer is more than 7 cm and is completely embedded in the kidney

Stage 3: Cancer has spread into the adrenal gland present above the kidney or into one of the nearby major veins, and a few cancer cells are present in the lymph node

Stage 4: Cancer has spread into surrounding tissues or another part of the body, and cancer cells are found in more than one lymph node.

Once the doctor is aware of the stage of the kidney cancer, they will be able to design an appropriate treatment plan to manage the disease.

Treatment

Surgery is the most recommended treatment for kidney cancer. It may include complete or partial removal of the kidney. During complete removal, the surgeon may also remove a border of healthy tissue and the nearby lymph nodes.

During partial removal, only the tumour is removed along with a small margin of the surrounding healthy tissue.

If surgical treatment is not possible, non-surgical treatment may be performed. This may include:

  • Cryotherapy to freeze the cancer cells
  • Radiofrequency ablation to damage the cancer cells with heat
  • Certain medications
  • Targeted therapy to treat the underlying cause of cancer

Radiation therapy, which uses high-frequency rays to reduce or control cancer spread to other parts of the body.

Meet our specialists

Mr Sam Datta a urologist in East Anglia
Mr Sam Datta

BSc MSc MD FRCS (Urol) PGCME

Read more
Mr Zafar Maan a urologist in East Anglia
Mr Zafar Maan

BSc (Hons) MSc (Urol) MA (Clin Ed) FRCS (Urol)

Read more
Mr Rajiv Pillai a urologist in East Anglia
Mr Rajiv Pillai

MSc MS FRCS (Urol) FEBU

Read more

Make an enquiry

Whether you are ready to book an appointment or if you wish to speak to a member of our team regarding what service you may require or about any questions you have, simply fill out the form with your details and we will get back to you.

If you would like to speak to us directly or want to make an appointment immediately, then call us on:

07580 307020

pas@aua.ltd

By submitting this form, you consent to us processing your data in order to respond to your enquiry. Read our privacy policy for more information.