Renal carcinoma, commonly referred to as kidney cancer, is a type of cancer that damages the kidneys in adults. It is one of the most common types of cancer and affects both men and women. While the exact cause of renal carcinoma is still unknown, certain risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing it. Of course, many different treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and progression of the disease. Still, early detection is critical for better outcomes. Read on to learn about kidney cancer:
What is renal carcinoma?
Renal carcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in the kidneys. The most common type of carcinoma is renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which accounts for more than 90% of all cases. Other kidney cancer types include transitional cell carcinoma, Wilms tumor, and renal sarcoma.
Usually, the condition occurs when abnormal cells form in the kidney lining. These cells can overgrow, forming tumors in the kidneys. Over time, these tumors can spread to the lungs, liver, or lymph nodes.
What are the symptoms of renal carcinoma?
Typically, many symptoms can cause renal carcinoma. In many cases, the signs go together with other medical conditions. In this regard, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately if you notice the following symptoms:
- Blood in Urine: One of the common signs of renal carcinoma is blood in the urine. The presence of red blood cells may be an indication that there is a tumor present in the kidney or nearby lymph nodes.
- Pain in Abdomen or Flank: Pain in the abdomen or side may also indicate the presence of a tumor. This pain may be sharp and localized or dull and aching. It may be worse during urination or when the person moves around.
- High Blood Pressure: People with renal carcinoma often also experience high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is higher than normal and does not respond to medications, it may indicate renal carcinoma.
- Fever and Night Sweats: People with carcinoma may also experience fever and night sweats, which are caused by the body’s response to the cancer cells. If you have been experiencing these symptoms, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately.
- Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss is another symptom that may indicate the presence of renal carcinoma.
- Swelling in Abdomen or Ankles: Swelling in the abdomen or ankles can also be a sign of carcinoma. This is usually caused by fluid buildup due to an increase in the size of the tumor or due to blockage in the lymphatic system.
How to diagnose renal carcinoma?
Various tests can diagnose renal carcinoma, including imaging tests, blood tests, and biopsies. Typically, imaging tests such as CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasound scans can detect the presence of kidney tumors. A biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis, as it provides information about the type of cancer cells present.
Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) can help check for red blood cell counts and other indicators of cancer, such as elevated calcium levels and creatinine in the blood. In addition, high blood pressure can be an indicator of kidney cancer. If present, doctors may recommend further testing to determine if renal carcinoma is the cause.
Finally, medical experts often examine lymph nodes for signs of the spread of cancer. This may involve having a lymph node biopsy or examining the lymph nodes for enlarged masses. If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the treatment options may require proper adjustment.
What are the treatments for renal carcinoma?
Renal carcinoma is a severe condition that requires immediate attention and treatment. However, treatment options depend on the tumor type, size, location, and overall health. Still, some common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy.
Surgery is the most common treatment for renal carcinoma. Typically, it involves removing the tumor and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Depending on the cancer’s size and location, the surgeon may remove the entire kidney (radical nephrectomy) or just the tumor (partial nephrectomy). Surgery may also help relieve symptoms of advanced kidney cancer, such as bleeding or blockage in the urinary tract.
Typically, chemotherapy is a long-term procedure that kills cancer cells with medication. It can work alone or with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Usually, it damages the DNA in cancer cells and stops them from growing and dividing. In some cases, chemotherapy may help shrink the tumor before surgery or radiation therapy.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses medications to help boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Such drugs stimulate specific immune cells, such as T-cells, which can attack and destroy cancer cells.
Radiation therapy is another treatment option for the disease. It involves using high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. Like chemotherapy, radiation may shrink tumors before or after surgery and prevent cancer from returning.
Targeted Drug Therapy
Targeted drug therapy is a type of treatment that uses medications to target specific molecules within cancer cells. These medications can help slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells. Targeted drug therapy can be used alone or in combination with other methods, like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
What are the risks factors for developing renal carcinoma?
- Age: Renal carcinoma is more common in people over 50.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop carcinoma than women.
- Genetics: Those with a family history of kidney cancer are at a higher risk of carcinoma.
- Smoking: Smokers are more likely to develop renal carcinoma than non-smokers.
- High blood pressure: People with abnormal blood pressure have an increased risk of developing carcinoma.
- Kidney tumors: If you have a benign (non-cancerous) kidney tumor, your risk of worsening your condition increases.
- Exposure to certain chemicals: Those exposed to certain chemicals, such as cadmium or trichloroethylene, are at an increased risk of developing carcinoma.
- Obesity: People who are obese may be at an increased risk of developing carcinoma.
- Radiation exposure: People who have had radiation therapy or have been exposed to certain types of radiation may be at an increased risk of developing kidney cancer.
- Certain medications: People who take certain medications, such as cyclosporine and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may be more prone to developing the disease.
Undoubtedly, carcinoma is a severe condition that requires prompt medical attention. In this regard, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to ensure the best prognosis. While some risk factors, such as smoking, may increase your chances of developing carcinoma, most cases occur without any known cause.
Knowing how to reduce your risks and seeking regular medical care can help to keep you healthy and reduce your chances of developing this disease. If you have carcinoma, your healthcare team can help you to determine the best treatment options for you.
Can I prevent the development of renal cell carcinoma?
The risk factors for developing renal cell carcinoma include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney cancer, and long-term dialysis. Indeed, there is no guaranteed way to prevent renal cell carcinoma. Still, leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding known risk factors can reduce your chance of developing the disease.
What are the survival rates for renal carcinoma?
Survival rates for carcinoma vary depending on the stage of cancer. Overall, most people diagnosed with early-stage renal cell carcinoma have a good prognosis and a 5-year survival rate of more than 80%. However, for those with advanced stages of the disease, the 5-year survival rate is much lower.
Can a patient with renal carcinoma lead a normal life?
With proper treatment and follow-up care, many people with renal carcinoma can go on to live full, normal lives. With careful monitoring, it’s possible to detect signs of recurrence or progression in the early stages and take steps to address it.