- By Dr Vikas Singh,
M.B.B.S., M.S., M.Ch.
Urologist, Genito Uro Oncologist and Kidney Transplant Surgeon,
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore.
Kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma, is a disease that begins in the cells of the kidneys. It is one of the most common types of cancer in both men and women. Kidney cancer often develops in people over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age. In this article, we will discuss some of the frequently asked questions about kidney cancer.
What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
The most common symptoms of kidney cancer include blood in the urine, pain in the back or side that does not go away, a mass or lump in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and fever. However, in many cases, kidney cancer does not cause any symptoms until it has advanced.
What are the causes of kidney cancer?
The exact causes of kidney cancer are unknown, but certain risk factors have been identified. These include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, family history of kidney cancer, and long-term dialysis treatment.
How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
Kidney cancer is typically diagnosed through a combination of imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRIs, and a biopsy, in which a sample of the tumor is removed and examined under a microscope.
What are the treatment options for kidney cancer?
The treatment options for kidney cancer depend on the stage of the cancer and other factors, such as the patient's age and overall health. Surgery is the most common treatment for kidney cancer, and it may involve removing part of the kidney or the entire kidney. Other treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
Can kidney cancer be prevented?
There is no sure way to prevent kidney cancer, but there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk. These include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, managing high blood pressure, and avoiding exposure to certain chemicals, such as asbestos and cadmium.
What is the prognosis for kidney cancer?
The prognosis for kidney cancer depends on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. When kidney cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is around 93%. However, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate drops to around 12%.
What are the types of surgeries for kidney cancer?
The most common types of surgeries for kidney cancer are:
Partial nephrectomy: This surgery involves removing only the cancerous part of the kidney while leaving the rest of the organ intact.
Radical nephrectomy: This surgery involves removing the entire affected kidney, as well as the surrounding lymph nodes and tissue.
Laparoscopic nephrectomy: This is a minimally invasive surgery that involves removing the affected kidney using small incisions and specialized tools.
Robotic-assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy: This is a variation of laparoscopic nephrectomy that uses a robotic system to perform the surgery.
How is the type of surgery determined?
The type of surgery recommended for kidney cancer depends on various factors, such as the size and location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the patient's overall health. In some cases, a partial nephrectomy may be recommended to preserve kidney function, while in other cases, a radical nephrectomy may be necessary to remove the entire cancerous kidney. The type of surgery will be determined by the patient's medical team, who will consider all relevant factors before making a recommendation.
What are the risks of kidney cancer surgery?
Like any surgery, there are risks associated with kidney cancer surgery. These risks include bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding organs or tissues, and complications related to anesthesia. There is also a risk of developing chronic kidney disease or renal failure if both kidneys are affected or if the remaining kidney is not functioning properly after surgery. However, these risks are generally low, and most patients recover well from kidney cancer surgery.
How long does it take to recover from kidney cancer surgery?
The recovery time from kidney cancer surgery varies depending on the type of surgery performed and the patient's overall health. Generally, patients who undergo a partial nephrectomy can return to normal activities within a few weeks, while patients who undergo a radical nephrectomy may take longer to recover. It is important to follow the post-operative instructions provided by the medical team and to attend all follow-up appointments to ensure a smooth recovery.
What are the chances of the cancer returning after surgery?
The chances of the cancer returning after surgery depend on various factors, such as the stage of the cancer, the type of surgery performed, and the patient's overall health. Patients who undergo a partial nephrectomy have a lower risk of the cancer returning than patients who undergo a radical nephrectomy. However, regular follow-up appointments and imaging tests are essential to detect any signs of recurrence early.
Can kidney cancer surgery be performed on older patients?
Yes, kidney cancer surgery can be performed on older patients, but the risks and benefits of the surgery must be carefully considered. Older patients may have other medical conditions that increase the risks of surgery, such as heart disease or diabetes. However, if the patient is in good overall health, kidney cancer surgery can be a safe and effective treatment option.
Can kidney cancer surgery affect fertility?
In men, kidney cancer surgery can affect fertility if it involves removing one or both testicles or if it affects the blood supply to the testicles. However, this is rare and usually only occurs in advanced cases of kidney.
What is immunotherapy for kidney cancer?
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer. It works by targeting proteins on the surface of cancer cells, which helps the immune system recognize and attack the cancer cells. Immunotherapy is used to treat several types of cancer, including kidney cancer.
What is targeted therapy for kidney cancer?
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that targets specific genes, proteins, or other molecules that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Targeted therapy drugs are designed to interfere with these molecules and prevent the cancer cells from growing and spreading. Targeted therapy is used to treat several types of cancer, including kidney cancer.
Can kidney cancer come back after treatment?
Yes, rarely; kidney cancer can come back after treatment. The risk of recurrence depends on several factors, including the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis, the type of treatment, and the patient's overall health. Patients who have had kidney cancer should continue to have regular follow-up appointments with their doctor to monitor for recurrence.