There are usually no signs or symptoms of kidney cancer in its early stages. Signs
and symptoms may emerge over time, including:
- Urine containing blood, which may appear pink, red, or
- Pain in the back or side that does not go away
- Appetite loss
- Unknown cause of weight loss
The following factors can increase the risk of kidney cancer:
- Getting older - As you get older, your
chances of developing kidney cancer rise.
- Smoking - Smokers are more likely to
develop kidney cancer than nonsmokers. After you quit, the risk decreases.
- Obesity - Obese people are more likely
to develop kidney cancer than people who are considered to be of a healthy weight.
- Blood Pressure - Blood pressure is high
(hypertension). High blood pressure raises your chances of developing kidney cancer.
- Kidney failure treatment - People who
receive long-term dialysis for chronic kidney failure are more likely to develop kidney
- Several Inherited Syndromes- People who
are born with certain inherited syndromes, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease,
Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, hereditary papillary renal cell
carcinoma, or familial renal cancer,may be at a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.
- Kidney cancer runs in the family. If close family members
have had kidney cancer, the risk increases.
Improving your health may help lower your risk of kidney cancer. Try the following to
reduce your risk:
- Stop smoking. Quit smoking if you smoke. There are
numerous ways to quit smoking, including support groups, medications, and nicotine
replacement products. Inform your doctor that you want to quit and discuss your options
with him or her.
- Keep a healthy weight. Maintain a healthy body weight.
Reduce the number of calories you consume each day and try to be physically active most
days of the week if you are overweight or obese. Inquire with your doctor about other
healthy weight-loss strategies.
- Control high blood pressure. Always request that your
blood pressure be checked at your next appointment. If your blood pressure is high, you
can talk about ways to lower it. Exercise, weight loss, and dietary changes can all be
beneficial. Some people may need to take additional medications to control their blood
pressure. Consult your doctor about your options.
Urine and blood tests Blood and urine tests may provide your doctor with information about
what's causing your signs and symptoms.
Imaging examinations Imaging tests enable your doctor to see a kidney tumour or other
abnormality. Ultrasound, X-ray, CT, or MRI are examples of imaging tests.
Taking a kidney tissue sample (biopsy). In some cases, your doctor may advise you to have a
small sample of cells (biopsy) taken from a suspicious area of your kidney. The sample is
examined in a lab for signs of cancer. This procedure is not always necessary.
Staging of kidney cancer
Once your doctor has identified a kidney lesion that may be cancer, the next step is to
determine the cancer's extent (stage). Additional CT scans or other imaging tests as
determined by your doctor may be used in the staging of kidney cancer.
Kidney cancer stages are denoted by Roman numerals ranging from I to IV, with the lowest
stages indicating cancer confined to the kidney. By stage IV, the cancer has spread to the
lymph nodes or other parts of the body and is considered advanced.
The first step in treating kidney cancer is usually surgery to remove the cancer.. This may
be the only treatment required for cancers of the kidney. Additional treatments may be
recommended if the cancer has spread beyond the kidney.
You and your treatment team can discuss your kidney cancer treatment options together. The
best approach for you may be determined by a variety of factors, including your overall
health, the type of kidney cancer you have, whether the cancer has spread, and your
The most common initial treatment for kidney cancer is surgery. When possible, the goal of
surgery is to remove the cancer while preserving normal kidney function. Kidney cancer is
treated using the following procedures:
Taking out the affected kidney (nephrectomy). A complete (radical)
nephrectomy involves the removal of the entire kidney, a border of healthy tissue, and, in
some cases, additional nearby tissues such as lymph nodes, the adrenal gland, or other
A nephrectomy can be performed through a single incision in the abdomen or side (open
nephrectomy) or through a series of small incisions in the abdomen (keyhole nephrectomy)
(laparoscopic or robotic-assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy).
The removal of the kidney tumour (partial nephrectomy). The surgeon removes
the cancer and a small margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it rather than the entire
kidney in kidney-sparing or nephron-sparing surgery. It can be performed openly,
laparoscopically, or with robotic assistance.
Kidney-sparing surgery is a common treatment for small kidney cancers, and if you only have
one kidney, it may be an option. To preserve kidney function and reduce the risk of later
complications, such as kidney disease and the need for dialysis, kidney-sparing surgery is
generally preferred over a complete nephrectomy when possible.
The type of surgery recommended by your doctor will be determined by the stage of
your cancer as well as your overall health.
Nonsurgical treatments, such as heat and cold, are sometimes used to destroy small kidney
cancers. These procedures may be an option in some cases, such as for people who have other
health issues that make surgery risky.
Cancer cell freezing therapy (cryoablation).
Using ultrasound or other image guidance, a special hollow needle is inserted through your
skin and into the kidney tumour during cryoablation. The cancer cells are frozen using cold
gas in the needle.
Heat treatment for cancer cells (radiofrequency ablation).
During radiofrequency ablation, a special probe is inserted through your skin and into the
kidney tumour, guided by ultrasound or other imaging. A current is passed through the needle
and into the cancer cells, causing them to heat up or burn.
Advanced and recurring kidney cancer treatments
Kidney cancer that returns after treatment or spreads to other parts of the body may not be
curable. Treatments may assist in controlling the cancer and keeping you comfortable.
Treatments in these cases may include:
The kidney cancer is removed as much as possible during surgery. If the cancer cannot be
completely removed during an operation, surgeons may work to remove as much of it as
possible. Cancer that has spread to another part of the body may also be removed surgically.
Therapy that is targeted.
Targeted drug treatments target specific abnormalities found in cancer cells.
Immunotherapy makes use of your immune system to combat cancer. Because cancer cells produce proteins that aid in their concealment from immune system cells, your body's disease-fighting immune system may fail to recognise and attack your cancer. Immunotherapy works by disrupting that process.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by delivering high-energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons. Radiation therapy is occasionally used to control or alleviate symptoms of kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones and brain.