What is it?
Kidney cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma) is a cancerous mass that arises from the kidney. It is often discovered early and most often is a highly treatable and curable disease. Our oncologic surgeons can guide you through the treatment process and provide the comprehensive care you need.
Why does it occur?
Risk Factors for Renal Cell Cancer:
- Age >60
- High blood pressure
- Kidney cysts seen in patients with chronic kidney failure
- Family history
- Genetic conditions (rare): von Hippel Lindau, Tuberous sclerosis, Birt-Hogg-Dube, Adult polycystic kidney disease
How is it evaluated and why?
Most kidney tumors are found “incidentally” when a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound is performed to evaluate another medical condition. However as a result, many kidney masses are found in an early curable stage.
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Flank pain/back pain
- Weight loss, fever, sweats
- High blood pressure
- Imaging: CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, x-ray, bone scan
- Blood tests: kidney function, liver function, blood count, urinalysis
- Biopsy of the mass (under specific circumstances): if suspicious that the mass may be from another cancer e.g. breast or colon; or to confirm diagnosis if there is evidence that the disease has spread far from the kidney (metastatic)
After appropriate evaluation, your physician while discuss the tumor staging with you and help guide you through the treatment options.
Many treatment options exist and your physician can provide the latest medical innovation to provide the best outcome for you.
Many kidney tumors can be removed with minimally invasive techniques like laparoscopy or robotic surgery. This allows for precise excision of the tumor as well as smaller incisions, shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time.
Depending on the size and location of the mass, your surgeon may discuss removing only the mass (partial nephrectomy) and leaving the surrounding normal kidney portion behind or may remove the entire kidney (radical nephrectomy).
Since many kidney masses are discovered incidentally, they may be at a very early stage/small in size. A small mass can be monitored under the appropriate circumstances. Your urologist can help you decide if this is the right strategy for you.
Small masses can be treated with minimally invasive techniques. These include insertion of a probe during surgery or with imaging (CT scan) guidance and freezing the tumor to destroy the tumor cells (cryotherapy) or applying heat (radiofrequency ablation).