The Symptoms, Treatment and Prospects for Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is one of the 10 most common cancers in the United States. There will be nearly 64,000 cases of kidney cancer diagnosed in 2017, and the majority of them will be older men. Most kidney cancers are diagnosed in people over 60. It’s very rare in younger people. About 14,400 people will die of kidney cancer. The risk of getting this type of cancer throughout a person’s lifetime is about 1 in 63.
Kidney Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of kidney cancer can be nonspecific, which means they can be symptoms of a completely benign or less dangerous condition. Kidney cancer symptoms include:
Blood in the Urine
This sign can be obvious enough to change the color of the urine, or it may only be detectable through a lab test. There are many other things more likely to cause blood in the urine, including kidney stones and a urinary tract infection. Even eating certain foods like beets can turn the blood red. A person who is worried about a change of color in their urine should see their doctor.
Pain in the Flank
This pain can be dull or aching or sharp and sudden. Like discolored urine, it can be caused by a more benign condition. If the pain persists, the patient should visit their doctor.
A Lump or Mass in the Abdomen
The lump feels hard and bulges beneath the skin. Unfortunately, lumps that are palpable and the result of kidney cancer are a sign that the cancer is advanced, for the kidneys are found deep in the body.
The fatigue that attacks the patient who has cancer is so relentless and deep that it interferes with daily life. A person who is feeling so tired that they can’t function needs to see their doctor.
One of the jobs of the kidneys is to stimulate the body into making red blood cells. If cancer prevents the kidneys from doing this, anemia can develop.
Unexplained Weight Loss
This often happens when the tumor metastasizes. The patient may also lose their appetite.
Other symptoms are fevers, constipation, pallor, cold intolerance and visual problems.
Kidney Cancer Causes
Like many cancers, the causes of kidney cancer are not known. Doctors only know that people who are at higher risk are older and are male. They also tend to be obese, have high blood pressure, smoke and have been undergoing dialysis. Other kidney cancer causes are exposure to toxins. Others at risk are people who were born with misshapen kidneys or who have polycystic kidney disease.
Kidney Cancer Treatment
Kidney cancer treatment includes kidney cancer surgery, which many physicians believe is the best option, even if the cancer has metastasized, or spread. Treatments such as cryotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are performed when the patient is too ill for kidney cancer surgery. In cryotherapy, the tumor is killed by freezing, and in radio frequency ablation the tumor is killed by an electrical current. Another treatment is radiation, though kidney cancer does not respond as well to this treatment as some other cancers.
Kidney Cancer Stages
Kidney cancer stages range from Stage I to Stage IV, with subdivisions describing the size of the tumor and if it has spread outside the kidney, to the lymph nodes or to local or distant organs. Kidney cancer survival rates are measured by the percentage of patients alive five years after diagnosis.
Kidney Cancer Survival Rates
After five years the survival rate for a person with Stage I cancer is 81 percent; for Stage II it is 74 percent; for Stage III, 53 percent and for Stage IV, 8 percent.