What is kidney cancer?
Most cancers are named after the part of the body where the cancer first begins, and kidney cancer is no exception. Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys -- two large, bean-shaped organs -- one located to the left and the other to the right of the backbone. Kidney cancer may also be referred to as renal cancer.
What are the symptoms?
Blood in the urine
Loss of appetite and rapid, unexplained weight loss
Low back pain not caused by an injury
Swelling of ankles and legs
Mass or lump on the side or lower back
Recurrent fever not caused by a cold or the flu
What treatment options are available?
Surgery to remove the kidney is called a nephrectomy and is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. The following are different types of nephrectomy procedures:
- Radical nephrectomy - The whole kidney is removed along with the adrenal gland, tissue around the kidney and, sometimes, lymph nodes in the area.
- Simple nephrectomy - Only the kidney is removed.
- Partial nephrectomy - Only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor is removed.
The remaining kidney is generally able to perform the work of both kidneys.
Radiation Therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells, and is also sometimes used to relieve pain when kidney cancer has spread to the bone.
Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific parts of cancer cells. These drugs work differently from standard chemotherapy drugs and often have less severe side effects. They are commonly the first line of treatment for advanced kidney cancer.
Biological Therapy (Immunotherapy)
Biological therapy is a treatment that uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, kidney cancer is often resistant to chemotherapy drugs.
Arterial embolization is a procedure in which small pieces of a special gelatin sponge, or other material, are injected through a catheter to clog the main renal blood vessel. This procedure shrinks the tumor by depriving it of the oxygen-carrying blood and other substances it needs to grow. It may also be used before an operation to make surgery easier or to provide relief from pain when removal of the tumor is not possible.