Medical Awareness >>   Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

Certain kidney cells grow out of control, causing an organ mass that is fatal, and this is what causes kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma. If the cancer is not removed, it may spread to neighboring tissues and organs and prevent the organ from functioning. It is curable if caught in time. New treatments and techniques have considerably improved overall cure rates, even in more advanced stages.


Kidney cancer is increasingly found in children also now-a-days as Wilms tumor. Kidney cancer is most common in people of age 65-74. Males are more prone to develop this disease than females. It’s more common in Native American and Black populations. 500-600 children every year suffer from Wilms tumor. There are different types of kidney cancer such as renal cell carcinoma, wilms tumor, renal sarcoma, transitional cell cancer. Some kidney tumors are benign while some are malignant. 

Kidney Cancer Symptoms-

Kidney cancer often does not cause any noticeable symptoms. Some symptoms that need attention include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Mass in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Fever not associated with infection
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent low back pain
  • A poor health feeling

Kidney Cancer Causes-

When certain kidney cells experience DNA changes (mutations), kidney cancer starts to spread. The instructions that inform a cell what to do are encoded in its DNA. The adjustments instruct the cells to multiply and expand quickly. The growing mass of aberrant cells can grow outside of the kidney. It is possible for some cells to separate and travel (metastasize) to other places of the body. This is how the spread of kidney cancer occurs. 

Risk factors-

  • Kidney cancer risk increases with age
  • Smokers have more risk of kidney cancer than nonsmokers
  • People who do not keep healthy weight have chances of developing kidney cancer
  • Hypertension increases risk of kidney cancer
  • People who are on long term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure develop kidney cancer
  • People born with some unusual inherited syndromes also have kidney cancer
  • Kidney cancer runs in families


  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Control healthy blood pressure 

Diagnosis of kidney cancer-

  • Urine analysis
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound 
  • Renal mass biopsy

Kidney cancer stages-

Stage of any cancer is based on size and location of tumor, extent to which lymph nodes are affected, degree to which cancer is spread. There are four stages of cancer. Stage1 involves a small tumor with no spread to lymph nodes. Stage 2 involves a larger tumor that has not spread to lymph nodes either. Stage 3 involves a tumor that has spread to major blood vessels and lymph nodes. Last stage 4 involves spread of tumor to outside of kidney and other distant lymph nodes, tissues and organs. 

Complications of kidney cancer-

Direct tumor effects such as abdominal bloating, hypertension and constipation, paraneoplastic phenomenon, metastasis, adverse effects from targeted systemic therapies such as from surgery leading to renal function compromise, hypertension, impaired wound healing, proteinuria, hemorrhage, thrombosis, impaired cardiac function, endocrine dysfunction etc.

Kidney Cancer Treatment-

There are several kinds of treatment for kidney cancer. In most instances, surgery is the first measure. Even if surgery removes the entire tumor, additional treatment may be suggested to destroy any remaining cancer cells that can't be noticed.

Following surgery for kidney cancer may be suggested:

  • Radical nephrectomy eliminates the kidney, adrenal gland, tissue around it, and usually the surrounding lymph nodes. 
  • A simple nephrectomy eliminates the kidney.
  • Partial nephrectomy kills cancer in the kidney along with any tissue around it.

One can survive with a part of one kidney as long as it is still operating. If both kidneys are removed or non-functional, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be suggested. 

If surgery cannot eliminate kidney cancer, other options to help eradicate the tumor are:

  • Cryotherapy - intense cold to kill the tumor.
  • Radiofrequency ablation - high-energy radio waves for cooking the tumor.
  • Arterial embolization - inserting an element into an artery leading to the kidney, blocking blood flow to the tumor. 

Fact Check-

  • The risk for developing kidney cancer is about 2% in men, and 1% in women.
  • Each year 65000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in the United States.
  • Renal cell carcinoma is most common.
  • Most kidney cancers are malignant.
  • Running, walking reduce the risk of kidney cancer.
  • RCC occurrence is sporadic but is associated with four inherited syndromes. 
  • Another name for Wilm's tumor is nephroblastoma in children.
  • More use of analgesics is associated with kidney cancer.
  • Now-a-days robotic kidney surgeries are done for tumor removal called robotic partial nephrectomy.
  • March is said to be the kidney cancer awareness month.
  • 18 June is World Kidney Cancer Day.
  • 90% of adult renal malignancies are due to RCC.
  • There are different subtypes of kidney cancer types based on cell types, genes mutated, histologic features etc.
  • Multidisciplinary care of doctors is needed to treat kidney cancer such as a urologist, nephrologist, pathologist, radiologist, surgical oncologist and a general oncologist.
  • Higher levels of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen means that kidneys are not functioning well.

PGC Resolution- 

Building knowledge, developing attitudes, spreading awareness, and advancing the treatment with practices regarding kidney cancer in the country.