Renal cancer, also known as kidney cancer, is a version of cancer that begins in kidney cells. There are two main types of renal cancer – renal cell carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma. Tumours are usually removed by surgical means if the cancer hasn’t yet spread to other parts of the body.
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Symptoms of renal cancer depend on which part of the body it affects, and the severity with which the patient has the condition. Notwithstanding this, there are numerous hallmark symptoms that have come to typify this condition, such as:
These symptoms become more severe if the condition goes undiagnosed or untreated. There is also a risk of the cancer spreading, or metastasising, if insufficient treatment is employed. The five-year survival rate for patients with renal cancer currently stands at 73 percent – meaning approximately 1 in 4 patients do not survive for 5 years with this cancer.
There is no direct cause of renal cancer, but lifestyle and genetic factors can conspire in a patient contracting the disease. These causes include:
Each of these risk factors multiplies the likelihood of a patient contracting renal cancer. Patients who regularly use NSAID drugs – such as aspirin and ibuprofen – are significantly more likely to have renal cancer than those who do not. Patients who have a history of nearby cancers – like testicular or cervical cancer – are also more likely to develop renal cancer. It is also thought hypertension may also be one of the causes of renal cancer.
There are numerous ways to diagnose renal cancer, some of which include:
Doctors employ a range of tests to determine whether a patient has renal cancer. Patients may initially present with typical diagnostic symptoms such as urinary bleeding, presence of an abdominal mass and weight loss. Thereafter, more specific tests may be performed – such as blood and urine tests, while imagine tests can reveal the presence of tumours. A biopsy, though, is the gold standard as it reveals the nature of the mass and its likely progression.
Treatment options do exist for renal cancer, depending on how much the cancer has spread, and the age and health status of the patient in general. Treatment options include, but are not limited to:
Surgery is commonly employed in patients whose cancer has not yet spread. Part of the kidney may be removed or, alternatively, the entire kidney may be extracted. This procedure is not possible in all patients, however. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are directed to kill cancerous cells, while immunotherapy – also known as biologic therapy – aims to reinforce the body’s immune system in the battle against cancer.
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