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Kidney Cancer - What Causes It?

Dr. Nitesh Jain 89% (70 ratings)
MCh - Urology, MBBS
Urologist, Chennai  •  8 years experience
Kidney Cancer - What Causes It?

Kidney Cancer, more commonly known as renal cancer, first presents itself in the lining of the kidney. It then grows malignant and forms a tumor. The good news is that renal cancer rarely spreads to other organs. The bad news is that the tumors grow quite large before they can be detected.

Causes-
Kidney cancer has been found to occur most often in people who are older than 40 years of age. Though the cause of the cancer is not definitively known, there are a few factors that might increase the risk of developing kidney cancer. These include-

1. Obesity- Obesity can cause hormonal changes which in turn can increase the risk of cancer.

2. Smoking- As with any other kind of cancer, nicotine consumption, in the form of smoking cigarettes, increases the risk of developing the disease. In the case of renal cancer, it can, in fact, double the chances.

3. Pain Medications- A prolonged use of pain relievers over a period of time can increase the risk of renal cancer. Certain components of the medication can lead to kidney damage.

4. Genetic history- A medical history of family members, especially siblings, with the disease can significantly increase the risk of kidney cancer.

Symptoms-
In its early stages, kidney cancer remains asymptomatic, but as the tumor grow in size, symptoms begin to present themselves. These symptoms might include the following-

1. Blood in the urine.

2. A gradual loss of appetite leading to weight loss.

3. A persistent pain in your abdomen in conjunction with a lump.

4. A fever that is neither a result of an infection nor a cold, and one that lasts for weeks.

5. Swelling of the legs and ankles.

Treatment
Treatment for kidney cancer will depend on the size and location of the tumour and whether it has spread to other organs or parts of the body. Therefore, to determine the stage of cancer, diagnostic tests such as biopsy, are performed along with urine and blood tests. After determination of your cancer stage, the doctor will perform either a radical or a partial nephrectomy, where the cancerous tumor is removed along with additional tissues. Often, kidney surgery is followed by kidney transplant if both the kidneys need to be removed in nephrectomy. However, if nephrectomy does not cure your kidney cancer, then your oncologist may recommend cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation or arterial embolization.

Kidney cancer in its advanced stage is often treated with either biological therapy where your body’s immune system is utilized to fight cancer cells or targeted therapy where drugs are used stop the multiplication of cancer cells by blocking their signals. Due to such advancement in cancer treatment, the rate of success has gone up in recent years but you also need to follow a healthy lifestyle to make sure that the treatment can bring out the desired positive outcomes. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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