When we hear about cancer, it is usually breast cancer or skin cancer. However, did you know that kidney cancer is up there among the top ten cancer diagnoses in our country? It is estimated that approximately 14,000 deaths may occur each year as a result of this disease. It is not the risk of mortality that warrants discussion, although that is, of course, important. What we want to point out is that 75-80% of patients diagnosed with stage I or II kidney cancer survive. The more you know, the better you can guard your health.
The Healthy Kidneys
Kidneys are known as the filtration system for the blood. Every day, these to bean-shaped organs cleanse approximately 150 quarts of blood. They remove not only water but waste, which are then excreted as urine. The kidneys also house the adrenal glands, which are crucial to regulation of sex hormones, fluids, potassium, and blood sugar. The adrenals produce adrenaline when we are stressed, and aid in the production of red blood cells via erythropoetin.
Tumors and what They Could Mean
It is not the presence of a tumor or lesion on the kidney that raises concerns, it is the likelihood that a tumor could be malignant, or cancerous. Symptoms of kidney tumors may include:
- Back, abdominal, or side pain that lingers
- Blood in the urine
- Chronic fatigue and diagnosed anemia
- An abdominal lump
- Poor appetite followed by weight loss
If a kidney tumor is suspected, further evaluation will take place with ultrasound examination, urinalysis, blood work, and other diagnostic testing as needed to confirm status of the condition.
Kidney cancer may be treated in a number of ways. How we treat the condition will depend on several factors, including the stage and grade of the tumor itself, age of the patient, health history and general health at the time of treatment, and the anatomy of the kidney.
When kidney cancer is caught early, surgical removal of the tumor often provides an excellent prognosis. Additional therapies to consider include radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
If you have a history of kidney cancer in your family, or want to know more about risk factors for this condition, speak with your physician. We are also happy to answer questions regarding kidney cancer diagnostic testing and treatment options. Contact UT Urology at (423) 778-8765.