Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women. This video provides an overview: click to view.
According to The American Cancer Society, more than 50,000 new cases of kidney cancer will occur in 2017 and about 14,400 people will die from the disease.
Unlike many cancers, such as prostate or breast, there is no recommended screening test for kidney cancer. And because early kidney cancers do not usually produce any signs or symptoms, it is easy to go unnoticed until the disease has progressed.
This makes it especially important for those at a higher risk of developing the disease to know to the symptoms that can occur and alert their urologists with any concerns.
Symptoms can include:
- A lump in the abdomen
- Pain in the flank or side
- Decreased appetite
- Low blood count (anemia)
- Weight loss
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
A variety of genetic and lifestyle choices can increase one’s risk of developing kidney cancer, including family history, obesity, smoking and some inherited conditions. You can find a full list here from the American Cancer Society.
Testing usually includes blood work, urinalysis, a CT scan, an MRI and in rare cases a biopsy. A CT scan can identify a growth in the kidney and usually determine if it is malignant.
The treatment approach depends on the patient’s condition as well as the stage and size of the tumor. If treatment is recommended, tumor removal with minimally invasive techniques using laparoscopy or robotics can often replace larger-incision approaches, which reduces pain, hospitalization and recovery time.
Treatment for a patient whose cancer has metastasized typically involves removal of the affected kidney followed by chemotherapy. Many new and promising chemotherapies are available for the treatment of kidney cancer.
Research and recent advances in technology help us understand more about kidney cancer and how to treat it. If you have concerns or questions about kidney cancer, talk with your urologist.