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You’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer – what’s next?

October 16, 2013

Whether it’s you or someone you love, hearing the word “cancer” is a scary thing. But, being informed about the disease and treatment options is an important part of alleviating some of that fear. That’s exactly our job as physicians at The Urology Group, especially when it comes to kidney cancer (Renal Cell Cancer, or RCC).

Renal cell carcinoma is fairly uncommon. It accounts for 2 to 3% of all adult malignant neoplasms. Approximately 54,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States.

The first thing you need to know is that you are in good hands. If you haven’t done so already, it’s important to choose a physician that is specially trained in treating kidney cancer. A urologist is specially trained in treating renal cell carcinoma. Moving forward, this ensures the best-possible treatment.

The second thing you need to know is that you have options when it comes to treatment. So, let’s get started by walking through the process.

Diagnosis

Renal masses can be benign, inflammatory, or malignant. Certain characteristics on radiographic imaging can suggest the appearance of a malignant tumor. If the mass appears to be malignant, we can “stage” the tumor by closely examining the images.

Stage I: Growth or tumor no larger than 7 cm found in the kidney

Stage II: Tumor is larger than 7 cm but found in the kidney only.

Stage III: Cancer found in the kidney and extends locally into major veins or perinephric tissues.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread beyond the kidney.

Treatment

It’s imperative to know that every case is unique. There are different options and approaches in treatment depending on each individual’s situation. The disease can be successfully treated if it’s caught early enough.

Surveillance: Small renal tumors (<3cm) and elderly patients with multiple medical issues may elect to observe the mass.

Surgery: By far the most common treatment, though the procedure is based on the stage of the disease and the overall condition of the patient. Depending on the size of the tumor, surgeons may remove a portion of, or the entire kidney. Minimally invasive techniques using laparoscopy or robotics can often replace larger-incision approaches, reducing pain, hospitalization and recovery time.

Percutaneous therapy: Small tumors can be treated with cryoablation (freezing) or radiofrequency ablation.

Systemic Therapy: Many new and promising immunologic therapies and targeted molecular approaches are available for the treatment of renal cancer that has spread outside the kidney.

Support

A large part of being diagnosed with Renal Cell Cancer goes beyond the physiological implications and extends to your mental and emotional state. It’s important to find support systems to help you along the journey. Whether its family and friends, an educational seminar, participating in a race for research, or survivors support group – all of these are just a few examples of interactions or education that will help in your fight against this disease.

Please feel free to contact us at The Urology Group with any questions or to set up an appointment. Visit our website at www.urologygroup.com.

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