Also called renal cancer, kidney cancer originates in the kidneys, a pair of bean-shaped organs located near the backbone. The kidneys filter blood to prevent the build-up of waste and extra fluid. Kidney cancer almost always begins in the lining of the tubules in the kidneys and is usually detected before they spread to other parts of the body.
Usually there are no signs or symptoms during the early stages of kidney cancer. Later, possible symptoms include:
- Blood in the urine
- Low back pain on one side (not caused by injury)
- A lump on the side, abdomen or lower back
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme Fatigue (tiredness)
- Weight loss not caused by dieting
- Fever that is not caused by an infection and that doesn’t go away
- Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
- Swelling in your ankles or legs
Often these symptoms are caused by other conditions. For example, blood in the urine is more commonly caused by a urinary tract (bladder) infection or a kidney stone. Individuals with these symptoms should contact their primary care physician, who may refer them to a specialist for further evaluation.
- Age. Your risk of kidney cancer increases as you age.
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Treatment for kidney failure. People who receive long-term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure have a greater risk of developing kidney cancer.
- 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
- Family history of kidney cancer
- Exposure to certain substances in the workplace, such as cadmium or specific herbicides
St. Luke’s offers advanced services to diagnose and treat kidney cancer. Among the surgical treatments offered are traditional surgery, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery, including:
- Radical nephrectomy removes the kidney, adrenal gland, and surrounding tissue. It also often removes nearby lymph nodes.
- Simple nephrectomy removes the kidney only.
- Partial nephrectomy removes the cancer in the kidney along with some tissue around it. This procedure is used for patients with smaller tumors (less than 4 cm) or in those patients in which a radical nephrectomy might hurt the other kidney.
Other treatments include:
- Biological therapy – Uses drugs to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer (biological therapy)
- Chemotherapy – Uses drugs to kill cancer cells
- Radiation therapy – Uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors
- Targeted therapy – Uses drugs to more precisely identify and attack cancer cells