Urologic Conditions & Treatments

Kidney Cancer Chattanooga TN

Each of us has 2 kidneys. The kidneys primary job is to filter and clean the blood, removing waste through the creation of urine. The kidneys also release hormones that control blood pressure and promote the creation of red blood cells.

Kidney cancer forms in the lining of the tubes that filter blood inside the kidneys. It is one of the top ten most common cancers and is increasing at a rate of about 4% per year in the U.S. The risk of kidney cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring between the ages of 50-70. With timely diagnosis and treatment kidney cancer can be cured. Many kidney cancers are found at an early stage where survival rate is excellent.

Watch this amazing video of Dr. Chris Keel explaining the diagnosis of patient Ricky Crowe.

What are the risk factors for Kidney cancer?

Studies show that lifestyle risk factors can increase your risk of kidney tumors. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Certain genetic and inherited conditions including a family history of kidney cancer
  • High blood pressure and some medications for high blood pressure have been linked to kidney cancer
  • Workplace exposure to chemicals that cause genetic mutations
  • Obesity increases the risk of Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)
  • RCC is two times more common in men
  • African Americans and Native American Indians have a higher risk of RCC

Symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • A lump in the abdomen, side or lower back
  • Low back pain on one side
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Fever that is not due to infection and will not go away
  • Anemia
  • Loss of appetite

Most of the time kidney cancer may have no or only a few symptoms. It is vital that you see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the better the chance for cure.

Types of Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC):

RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer. 90% of kidney cancers are RCC.

Usually there is one tumor within the kidney, but sometimes there may be 2 or more tumors within one kidney or tumors in both kidneys. The subtype is one factor in making treatment decisions, and helps determine if your cancer is inherited.

There are several subtypes of RCC based on microscopic examination of the cancer cells.

  • Clear cell renal cell carcinoma- this is the most common form accounting for 70% of renal cancers.
  • Papillary renal cell carcinoma- is the second most common form accounting for 10% of renal cancers.
  • Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma- this accounts for about 5% or 5 in 100 cases of kidney cancer.
  • Rare types make up less than 1% of cases.


Many kidney cancers are found early, but some grow to more advanced stages. Your physician will take a complete medical history and conduct a physical exam. You will receive urine and blood tests, and likely imaging tests as well. Imaging tests like ultrasounds, CAT scans and MRIs can find small kidney tumors, but they cannot distinguish benign and cancerous tumors. Frequently kidney cancer is discovered by accident during the diagnosis of other conditions such as a gallbladder attack or other gastrointestinal symptom.

In certain circumstances a biopsy may be recommended. However, most often surgery is performed to remove the tumor and then it is examined by a pathologist to render a final diagnosis.

Staging the tumor (the extent of spread of the disease)

Staging is made based on the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to nearby tissue or other parts of the body.

Stage 1- the tumor is small and confined to the kidney

Stage 2- the tumor is larger than in stage 1, but is still confined to the kidney

Stage 3- The cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes or blood vessels

Stage 4- the tumor has grown outside the kidney, invade other nearby organs and/ or cells have spread to the lymph, lungs, liver and bones

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on your age, overall health, the size of the tumor, whether cancer has spread outside the kidneys or has spread to other parts of the body. Treatment options include surgery, targeted therapy and biological therapy.

You will see a urologist, like those at UT Urology, who specialize in treating kidney cancers. You may have a team of specialists to plan your options, the expected results and side effects. Tumor removal is the standard treatment. The type of surgery depends on the size and stage of the tumor, and whether it affects one or both kidneys.

Types of surgery:

  • Radical nephrectomy is removal of the affected kidney and most often is performed laparoscopically sometimes using the da Vinci® Robotic System
  • Partial nephrectomy is where only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor is removed, saving kidney function. It is limited to tumors confined within the kidney and this is also mostly performed laparoscopically using the da Vinci Robotic System
  • Cryosurgery is where the tumor is frozen which kills the tumor
  • Radiofrequency ablation is the use of a special probe with an electrode that can kill the cancer cells with heat

A nonsurgical option is targeted therapy and immunotherapy using a drug to shrink the tumor and slow tumor growth.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, UT Urology is here for you. Our team of highly experienced urologic surgeons and oncologists offer you the best quality treatments available for kidney cancer, including kidney sparing surgery. Our team of physicians have advanced robotic and laparoscopic trainings and have performed thousands of minimally invasive surgeries for kidney cancer.

We are leader in urologic cancer care providing service to the Chattanooga, Tennessee, North Georgia and North Alabama regions.

To find out more about kidney cancer in Chattanooga, Cleveland, and East Ridge, TN, fill out our contact form.

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