What is kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the kidneys.
Human body is made up of trillions of living cells that multiply day after day. Normal body cells grow, divide to make new cells and die in an orderly manner. During the early stages of person’s life normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. Once a person starts becoming an adult most cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair any injuries. Cancer occurs when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control or grow in an abnormal fashion. There are many kinds of cancer and can occur in any place of the body, like stomach, neck, breast, cervix or kidneys.
Kidneys are a pair of bean shaped organs each about the size of a fist of a person. They are attached to the upper rear wall of the abdomen. A kidney is just to the left and the other just to the right of the backbone. The lower rib cage protects the kidneys as a shield.
Risk factors for kidney cancer:
Cancer is a scourge that can affect anybody; there are certain risk factors which might cause kidney cancers:
- Excessive smoking builds pressure on the kidneys
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Genetic factors like presence of kidney cancer in parents or grandparents or any near blood relatives.
- High blood pressure
- Being obese
- Long term usage of pain medications
- Being exposed to certain cancer causing chemical agents.
Types of kidney cancers:
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC): Renal Cell adenocarcinoma or renal cell cancer is one of the most common types of kidney cancers occurring in 9 out 10 kidney cancer cases.
Can kidney cancer be prevented?
The reason why kidney cancer occurs still remains a mystery. Cancers cannot be prevented but precautions can be taken to ensure that we do not give rise to risk factors which may cause cancer.
- Becoming fit from fat is essential to fight common cancers
- Ceasing excessive abuse of alcohol or smoking prevents the risk of cancers
- Proper diet ensures good health
How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
Mainly the person may show symptoms as immediate weight loss, blood in the urine, swelling of ankles, dyspepsia. MRI X-rays routine blood tests and renal arteriogram are used to detect the presence of renal cancers.
Surgery for kidney cancer : Surgery is the most sought after treatment for most kidney cancers. In certain cases surgery is used to remove one or more malignant tumours, it may be associated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Surgery may involve removal of the affected kidney to arrest further growth of cancer. These types of surgeries are formed to cure cancers :
Is done to remove the kidney, adrenal gland, and surrounding tissues. It also often involves removal nearby lymph nodes. It is the most common surgery for kidney cancers and now is done through a small incision or a laparoscopic procedure.
removes the affected kidney only. Partial nephrectomy removes the cancer in the kidney along with some tissue around it to prevent further spread of malignancy. This procedure is used for patients with smaller tumors (less than 4 cm) or stage one cancers or in those patients in which a radical nephrectomy might hurt the other kidney in the process.
One can survive with just a part of one kidney as long as it is still working. If the surgeon removes both kidneys or if both kidneys are not working as they should, one should go in for a kidney transplant or frequent dialysis. If surgery can't remove the kidney cancer, the doctor may suggest other options to help destroy the tumor.
uses extreme cold temperatures to kill the tumor by freezing it.
Radiofrequency ablation uses high-energy radio waves to "cook" the tumor or make it ineffective.
Arterial embolization involves inserting material into an artery that leads to the kidney. This blocks or restricts the blood flow to the tumor. This procedure may be done to help shrink the tumor before the surgery.
Complications of the surgery:
The most common complications of surgery are infections and blood clots, which can be managed with medications.
Infections can develop in the lungs or in at the wound site. Breathing exercises will help to stop you from developing a chest infection. The signs of infection are redness pain swelling of the wound.
Medications are given to prevent blood clots after the surgery.
Before the operation or surgical procedure one will have various tests to check the general health status. Your surgeon and hospital staffers will come to talk to you about what will happen during and after operation. You can ask as many questions as you need to be confident. You may have had some of these tests while your cancer was being diagnosed. If so you may not have to have them repeated.
Immediately after surgery:
When you wake up you will have several different tubes in place. You will have a drip in your arm, and one or more drainage tubes from the wound. You will have a tube down your nose into your stomach to drain it and stop you feeling sick. And you will have a tube into your bladder to measure your urine output.
If you have open surgery you will almost certainly have pain for the first week or so. There may be less pain with keyhole surgery. It is important to tell your doctor or nurse as soon as you feel any pain. They need your help to find the type and dose of painkiller dosage to be administered.
How long the hospital stay will be?
Normally the hospital stay would range from 2 to 4 days depending on the prognosis of the patient.
After going home:
Due care must be taken to keep the surroundings clean and dry.
- Breathing exercises must be practised to prevent lung infections
- Leg exercises must be done to prevent clots from forming
- Medications should be taken as per the doctor’s advise
Curing kidney cancer:
Stage 1 and stage 2 malignant tumours less than 7mm can be removed. Stage 3 or stage 4 is difficult to contain considering the extent of malignancy to the other parts of the body. Surgery may relive certain symptoms.
Treatment after surgery:
If your surgeon is satisfied that all the cancer has been removed you won’t need any further treatment. If the surgeon is concerned that some cancer cells may have been left behind you may have biological therapy as part of a trial. You may be offered a course of radiotherapy but this is in rare cases.
Lifestyle changes after treatment for kidney cancer:
One can’t change the fact that you have had cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life. Eating better, exercising, spending quality time with family will ensure reoccurrence is prevented.
AT KIMS, we have a unique unit for renal care and have dealt numerous cases of kidneys with malignant tumours. Our treatments are aimed at giving the best possible cure to the patients and in most cases many patients are leading cancer-free lives. We are with you in your fight against cancer.