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How Kidney Cancer Is Caused

What Are The Different Types Of Kidney Cancer

What Are Some Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

The main type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma . About 9 out of 10 kidney cancer tumors are this type. If you have this type of kidney cancer, you may have more than one tumor in one or both kidneys. These may be large by the time they are diagnosed. But most cases of kidney cancer are found before the cancer has spread to other organs.

There are different types of RCC. A healthcare provider called a pathologist identifies these types by looking at the cancer cells under a microscope. The types of RCC include:

  • Clear cell. This is the most common type of RCC. The cancer cells look pale or clear.

  • Papillary. This is the second most common type of RCC. This type of tumor has tiny fingerlike growths.

  • Chromophobe. This is a rare form of RCC. The cells are larger than other types of RCC.

  • Collecting duct. This is also a rare form of RCC. The cancer cells look like irregular tubes.

  • Unclassified. This includes tumors that have cells from more than 1 type of cancer. It also includes tumors with cells that dont fit into the other categories.

What Can I Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting Kidney Cancer

To help reduce the risk of getting kidney cancer:

  • Be aware of your family history and discuss any concerns with your health care provider.
  • Do not smoke. If you currently smoke, quit. Avoid exposure to second hand smoke. For more information on quitting smoking, visit the NYS Smoker’s Quitline at or call 1-866-NY-QUITS.
  • Choose a healthy diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and eat less red and processed meats. These actions may reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer as well as other diseases.
  • Exercise regularly.

How Will I Know If I Have Kidney Cancer

Sometimes kidney cancer is found when your doctor is doing tests for other conditions, before you have any symptoms.

To find out if you have kidney cancer, your doctor might do one or more tests, such as:

  • Physical exam to measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure and listen to your heart, in addition to other exams
  • Blood tests to help find out how well your kidneys still work
  • Urine tests to check for blood in your urine or other signs of problems
  • Imaging tests to look at your kidneys, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, x-ray or MRI
  • Kidney biopsy is a procedure where your doctors take a small piece of your kidneys to look at it closely under a microscope.

If these tests show that you have kidney cancer, you will need to see another doctor to learn about your treatment options and choose a treatment plan. This may be a urologist or an oncologist .

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Advanced Or Recurrent Kidney Cancer Treatment

For people with advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, treatment with a drug may be recommended along with surgery, or instead of surgery. Some of these drugs are given to you as a pill that you take by mouth others are given as an injection. Much progress has been made in recent years, and people with advanced kidney cancer are living much longer than ten years ago.

  • Medicine is often used for advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or where surgery cannot be done.
  • Immunotherapy uses the bodys defense system to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Monoclonal antibodies attack a specific part of cancer cells
  • Checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells
  • Vaccines give an overall boost to the immune system
  • Anti-angiogenic therapies reduce the blood supply to a tumor to slow or stop its growth
  • Targeted therapies directly inhibit the growth of the cancer
  • Are There Early Warning Signs Of Kidney Cancer

    Kidney Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

    Many people with kidney cancer dont notice any early signs or symptoms until the cancers later stages, or until the tumor is large. Research suggests, in fact, that over half of all people diagnosed with RCC have no symptoms at the time of diagnosis.

    Some of the earliest symptoms you might notice include:

    • blood in your urine
    • loss of appetite
    • unexplained weight loss

    Its always a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor or other HCP if you feel generally unwell and:

    • your feelings of illness or fatigue last for more than 2 weeks
    • your symptoms get worse over time

    Some people have a greater chance of developing kidney cancer than others. Risk factors include:

    • taking acetaminophen only as directed, without exceeding the recommended dose
    • avoiding frequent exposure to harmful carcinogenic substances, like trichloroethylene

    Letting your physician know if you have a personal or family history of cancer can help them better determine your specific risk factors for developing RCC.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Cancer In Cats

    When diagnosing kidney cancer, your veterinarian may look at a sample of your cats urine .

    The symptoms of kidney cancer can be quite nonspecific, and include:

    • Palpable mass in the abdomen
    • Blood in the urine

    You may also see signs of kidney failure, such as drinking more and peeing more, but this is more commonly a sign of chronic kidney disease than kidney cancer.

    Who Has A Higher Chance Of Getting Kidney Cancer

    Doctors do not know what causes kidney cancer., but However, there are some things that might give you a higher risk of getting kidney cancer, including:

    • Having a family history of kidney cancer
    • Having certain inherited or genetic diseases
    • Long-term treatment for kidney failure

    Having one of these problems does not mean you will get kidney cancer.

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    Signs And Symptoms Of Kidney Cancer

    While some people may notice symptoms of kidney cancer, others dont experience any warning signs.

    The kidneys are located in the back of the abdomen, and tumors there can grow quite large without any symptoms at all, explains Andrew J. Armstrong, MD, a professor of medicine, surgery, pharmacology, and cancer biology at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

    • Blood in the urine, which may look red, pink, or cola-colored
    • Persistent pain in the back or side
    • Unexplained weight loss

    What Is Kidney Cancer

    What Causes Kidney Cancer?

    Kidney cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in your kidney tissue. In time, these cells form a mass called a tumor. Cancer begins when something triggers a change in the cells, and they divide out of control.

    A cancerous or malignant tumor can spread to other tissues and vital organs. When this happens, its called metastasis.

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    How Do The Kidneys Work

    Inside the kidney tiny networks of tubes called nephrons filter the blood. As blood passes through the nephrons all unwanted waste is taken away. Chemicals that your body needs are kept or returned to the bloodstream.

    Inside the nephrons waste products move from the small blood vessels into urine collecting tubes. The urine gathers in an area called the renal pelvis at the centre of each kidney. From here it drains down a tube called the ureter and into the bladder.

    There are 2 ureters, one from each kidney. Another tube called the urethra carries the urine from the bladder out of the body.

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    How Does Cryoablation For Kidney Cancer Work

    Cryoablation is used to treat small tumors, up to four centimeters .

    Cold gas is used to destroy the tumor by freezing it and then rapidly thawing it. This starves the cancer cells of blood, oxygen, and water. The gas is delivered through a thin needle that is inserted into the tumor. This is usually a laparoscopic procedure, which means the doctor makes a few small cuts and uses a tiny camera on an instrument called a laparoscope.

    This can also be done through your skin with a radiologist inserting a needle that is guided by a CT scan to freeze the tumor. This is even less invasive than the laparoscopic approach.

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    How Dermatologists Help Patients With Kidney Disease

    Kidney doctors, called nephrologists, often care for patients with kidney disease. When a kidney disease affects the skin, a nephrologist may team up with a dermatologist. Some skin conditions that develop due to kidney disease can be difficult to control. For example, if a patient has extremely itchy skin, it may be impossible to sleep through the night. A board-certified dermatologist can help a patient get some relief. This may involve using the right balance of moisturizers and medication that you apply to the skin. Some patients get relief with a treatment called UVB phototherapy.

    The right skin care may also help. If the kidney disease is causing extremely dry skin, these tips from dermatologists may help:

    1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2019. Page last reviewed Mar. 11, 2019. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2020.

    ImagesImage 1: Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

    Images 2, 3, 6, 9, 10: Getty Images

    Images 4, 5, 7, 8, 11: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

    ReferencesAmin A, Burgess EF. Skin manifestations associated with kidney cancer. Semin Oncol. 2016 43:408-12.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2019. Page last reviewed Mar. 11, 2019. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2020.

    Galperin TA, Cronin AJ, et al. Cutaneous Manifestations of ESRD. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 9:201-18.

    How Can I Prevent Kidney Cancer

    Kidney Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

    Because doctors don’t know the causes of kidney cancer, it is not clear how to prevent the disease. However, certain factors are linked to kidney cancer, so you can take certain steps to lower your risk — quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, manage your blood pressure, and avoid being exposed to harmful chemicals.

    Show Sources

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    Living With Advanced Cancer

    Advanced cancer usually means cancer that is unlikely to be cured. Some people can live for many months or years with advanced cancer. During this time palliative care services can help.

    Most people continue to have treatment for advanced cancer as part of palliative care, as it helps manage the cancer and improve their day-to-day lives. Many people think that palliative care is for people who are dying but palliative care is for any stage of advanced cancer. There are doctors, nurses and other people who specialise in palliative care.

    Treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or another type of treatment. It can help in these ways:

    • slow down how fast the cancer is growing
    • shrink the cancer
    • help you to live more comfortably by managing symptoms, like pain.

    Treatment depends on several things:

    • where the cancer started

    How Serious Is A Tumor On The Kidney

    It depends. Some kidney tumors are benign . These tumors are generally smaller than cancerous tumors and dont spread to other parts of your body. Surgical removal is the most common treatment for noncancerous kidney tumors.

    Whether your kidney tumor is cancerous or noncancerous, you should move forward with treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications.

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    Which Medical Experts Diagnose And Treat Kidney Cancer

    • Urologist A doctor with special training in treating diseases of the urinary system
    • Nephrologist A doctor who specializes in treating kidney conditions
    • Oncologist A doctor who treats cancer
    • Radiation oncologist A doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy
    • Urologic oncologist An oncologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancers of the urinary system

    Lee suggests finding a doctor with extensive experience treating kidney cancer.

    Even though kidney cancer is among the top 10 malignancies in terms of incidence, it is important to see a urologist and medical oncologist that has specific expertise with management of the disease who can help you determine whether standard treatments or a clinical trial would make the most sense for you, says Dr. Lee.

    What Are The Kidney Cancer Stages

    The Kidney and Kidney Cancers | What Are Some Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

    Most cancers are grouped by stage, a description of cancer that aids in planning treatment. The stage of a cancer is based on:

    • The location and size of the tumor.
    • The extent to which your lymph nodes are affected.
    • The degree to which the cancer spread, if at all, to other tissue and organs.

    Your healthcare provider uses information from various tests, including CT, MRI and biopsy, to determine the stage of cancer.

    • Stage I: The tumor is 7 centimeters across or smaller and is only in your kidney. It hasnt spread to lymph nodes or other tissue. .
    • Stage II: The tumor is larger than 7 cm across but is still only in your kidney. It hasnt spread to lymph nodes or other tissue.
    • Stage III: The tumor has spread to your major blood vessels your renal vein and inferior vena cava or into the tissue surrounding your kidney or to nearby lymph nodes.
    • Stage IV: The tumor has spread outside of your kidney to your adrenal gland , or to distant lymph nodes or other organs.

    Tumors are also graded, which is a way of rating a tumor based on how abnormal its cells look. Tumor grading can also tell your healthcare provider how fast the tumor is likely to grow. Tumors whose cells dont look like normal cells and divide rapidly are called high-grade tumors. High-grade tumors tend to grow and spread more quickly than low-grade tumors.

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    What Causes Kidney Cancer

    Kidney cancer is caused when DNA in cells in one or both kidneys mutate, which may lead to uncontrolled cell division and growth. While the exact cause of a persons kidney cancer may not be known, certain risk factors are strongly linked to the disease, including smoking tobacco and obesity. Also, people with certain hereditary cancer syndromes or a family history of kidney cancer have a high risk of developing the disease.

    Known risk factors for kidney cancer include:

    Treatment For Advanced Kidney Cancer

    Treatment for advanced kidney cancer may include:

    • active surveillance
    • radiation therapy.

    Drugs that reach cancer cells throughout the body are called systemic treatments. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy are the main systemic treatments used to control advanced kidney cancer. Since the development of these more effective systemic treatments, chemotherapy is rarely used for kidney cancer.

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    What Is The Prognosis For Cats With Kidney Cancer

    Unfortunately, kidney cancer in cats generally carries a poor prognosis. This is because kidney cancer tends to spread rapidly to other areas of the body, making treatment difficult.

    The average survival time for cats with renal lymphoma is around one to three months for cats receiving corticosteroids and palliative care only, or around six to nine months for those receiving chemotherapy. However, these are average survival times, and some cats have been reported to live a lot longer.

    In cats where the cancer is only affecting one kidney, and it has not spread to anywhere else, surgical removal of that kidney can be 100% curative. This type of surgery is very invasive, and does carry a lot of risks, however these cats can make a full recovery.

    For many cats, intensive treatment options, such as chemotherapy or surgery, may not be the right choice. Without these treatments, survival times are often short. However, your veterinary team can support you in keeping your cat as happy and comfortable with palliative at-home care.

    Sadly, kidney cancer in cats is very serious, and even with intensive treatment the prognosis is often poor. Your veterinary team is there to help you monitor and assess your cats quality of life. Unfortunately, once quality of life is no longer good, euthanasia may be the kindest option.

    What Factors Increase Risk For Developing Kidney Cancer

    Kidney Tumor And Back Pain

    At this time, the causes of kidney cancer are not well understood. However, scientists agree that certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing this disease. These risk factors include:

    • Hereditary conditions and family history. People with certain inherited diseases are at higher risk for kidney cancer. People with a family history of kidney cancer are also at increased risk.
    • Smoking. Smoking is an important risk factor for kidney cancer. People who smoke have a greater risk of developing kidney cancer than non-smokers. The risk of kidney cancer among smokers is about 40% higher than among non-smokers. Quitting smoking decreases the risk for kidney cancer, but it takes a long time to return to the level of non-smokers.
    • Obesity. People who are obese or overweight have a greater risk of developing kidney cancer.
    • Physical inactivity. People who lead an inactive lifestyle are at a greater risk for developing kidney cancer.
    • High blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure are at increased risk for getting kidney cancer.
    • Chronic kidney disease. People who are on dialysis for kidney failure may also be at higher risk for getting kidney cancer.

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    What Are The Treatments For Kidney Cancer

    Once you have a diagnosis and know your stage of kidney cancer, you and your doctor can plan treatment. You may want to gather information to help you feel more informed about your decision. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for treatment. This could include an urologist, a medical or radiation oncologist, or a surgeon. Before beginning treatment, many people find it helpful to get a second opinion about the diagnosis of kidney cancer and the treatment plan.

    Kidney cancer is one of the more common cancers to undergo spontaneous regression, in which it may return to an eralier stage. However, the incidence is quite low .

    There are several standard types of treatment for kidney cancer. In most cases, surgery is the first step. Even if surgery removes the entire tumor, though, your doctor may suggest an extra treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells that can’t be seen.

    Surgery for kidney cancer

    These are the main types of surgery for kidney cancer. Which type you have depends on how advanced your cancer is.

    You 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, you will need a machine to clean your blood or a new kidney . A transplant is possible if your cancer was found only in your kidney and a donated kidney is available.

    If surgery can’t remove your kidney cancer, your doctor may suggest another option to help destroy the tumor.

    Biologic therapy for kidney cancer


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