The kidneys are reddish brown organs about the size of a small fist located above the waist to either side of the spine. They are closer to the back then to the front. In kidney cancer, cells grow uncontrollably and form tumors.
Kidneys filter blood and remove impurities, excess minerals and salts, and surplus water. These organs also produce hormones to help control blood pressure, red blood cell production, and other functions. Although people have two kidneys, each works independently. The human body can function with less than one complete kidney. With dialysis, a mechanized filtering process, it is possible to live without kidneys.
Types of kidney cancers
Renal cell carcinoma
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. It accounts for more than 90% malignant kidney tumors.
Further divided renal cell carcinomas are of main five types.
- Clear cell
- Collecting duct
Clear cell carcinomas consist of about 80% of all renal cell carcinomas.
Transitional cell carcinomas
About 5 to 10 % of all kidney tumors are transitional cell carcinomas, also known as urothelial carcinomas. Transitional cell carcinoma begins in the area of the kidney where urine collects before being funneled to the bladder. This type of kidney cancer is similar to bladder cancer and is treated like bladder cancer.
About 5 to 6% of all kidney cancers are wilms tumors. This type of cancer is almost always found in children and is extremely rare among adults.
Renal sarcomas are a very rare type of kidney cancer that begins with the kidney’s collective tissues.
Some type of kidney tumors do not usually spread to other parts of the body, although they can still grow and cause problems. These include renal cell adenomas, renal oncocytomas, and angiomyolipomas.
Blood in urine
Low back pain on one side
A mass or lump in the abdomen
Fever that is not associated with a cold, flu, or other infection and that does not go away after a few weeks.
Swelling of ankles and legs.
Smoking – Cigarette smoking is one of the major causes of kidney cancer.
Gender – Kidney cancer occurs two or three times more often in men than it does in women.
Age – Kidney cancer is primarily a disease of adults and is usually diagnosed between the ages 50 & 70.
Diet and weight- Research has consistently demonstrated a link between kidney cancer and obesity caused by a high fat diet.
Hypertension- A connection has been made between high blood pressure and kidney cancer in men.
Overuse of certain medications- Some medicines such as diuretics and analgesic pain killers have also been linked to kidney cancer.
Exposure to chemicals- Some studies have shown a connection between kidney cancer and exposure to the metallic element cadmium. Working with products such as batteries, paints, or welding materials, may also increase risk; this risk is especially strong for smokers exposed to cadmium.
Sedentary lifestyle- Several studies have found that inactive people are more likely to develop kidney cancer than, people who exercise regularly.
Genetic and hereditary risk factors- Some people inherit a tendency to develop a certain type of cancer. Hereditary kidney cancer can be caused by unknown hereditary factors.
Von-hippen-lindau disease- People with this condition often develop several kinds of tumors. Between 25% to 45% of these people develop renal carcinoma. They may also have benign blood vessel tumors hemangioblastomas in the eyes, brain and spinal cord, cystic (fluid-filled) growths in their pancreas and other organs, and a type of adrenal gland tumor called pheochromocytoma. These tumors can cause various symptoms, so unfortunately there are no symptoms that are specified for this disease.
Diagnosis as per modern medical science
CT SCAN (Computed tomography)
MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging)
Fine needle aspiration biopsy
Stage 1 – The cancer is confined to the kidney
Stage 2 – The cancer has broken through the kidney capsule and spread into the fatty tissue immediately around the kidney and / or into the adrenal gland immediately above the kidney.
Stage 3 – The cancer has spread farther into nearby lymph nodes and / or blood vessels.
Stage 4 – The cancer has grown into a nearby organ or spread through the blood stream to other organs, lungs, liver or bone.