Kidney Cancer

What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer, also called renal cancer, is a disease in which kidney cells become malignant (cancerous) and grow out of control, forming a tumor. Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They're located behind your abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of your spine.

Almost all kidney cancers first appear in the lining of tiny tubes in the kidney. This type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma. Other less common types of kidney cancer can occur. Young children are more likely to develop a kind of kidney cancer called Wilms' tumor.

As with most cancers, early diagnosis of kidney cancer dramatically improves the chance for survival.

What are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?
In most cases, Kidney cancer rarely causes signs or symptoms in its early stages. In the later stages, kidney cancer signs and symptoms may include:

  • Blood in your urine, which may appear pink, red or cola colored
  • Back pain just below the ribs that doesn't go away
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Intermittent fever

How is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?
In addition to taking a complete medical history and performing a physical exam, your doctor will likely recommend the following tests to diagnose kidney cancer:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Imaging tests
  • Removing a sample of kidney tissue (biopsy)

Stages of Kidney Cancer:

  • Stage I
    At this stage, the tumor can be up to 2 3/4 inches (7 centimeters) in diameter. The tumor is confined to the kidney.
  • Stage II
    Kidney cancer is larger than a Stage I tumor, but it's still confined to the kidney.
  • Stage III
    The tumor extends beyond the kidney to the surrounding tissue and may also have spread to a nearby lymph node.
  • Stage IV
    Cancer spreads outside the kidney, to multiple lymph nodes or to distant parts of the body, such as the bones, liver or lungs.

How is Kidney Cancer Treated?
Together, you and your cancer care team will discuss your kidney cancer treatment options. The best approach for you may depend on a number of factors, including your general health, the kind of kidney cancer you have, whether the cancer has spread and your preferences for treatment.

Possible treatment options include:

  • Surgical treatments
  • Robotic Kidney-Sparing Surgery
  • Tumor ablation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Active surveillance

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