Kidney Cancer: Signs, Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

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Kidney Cancer: Signs, Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

Kidney cancer is a disease in which a malignant neoplasm grows. The tumor can develop on one or on both kidneys of the patient. In most cases, patients who have been diagnosed with kidney cancer have metastases in various organs. Most often, this ailment occurs in the male half of the population, women are slightly less likely to face this problem.


How long do you live with kidney cancer?

For many decades, doctors and scientists from different countries of the world have been working painstakingly to improve medical methods that will make it possible to more successfully treat cancer. According to statistics published in the media, more than 40,000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed worldwide every year. To date, the death rate from kidney cancer remains quite high. About 12,000 deaths are recorded annually in different countries of the world.

The danger of this oncological disease is that in the early stages it may be asymptomatic, and therefore, patients seek medical help too late. Even a brilliantly performed surgery to remove a malignant neoplasm or kidney cannot guarantee the patient a long life. This is due to the fact that several years after surgery, the patient may develop metastases. The process of metastasis of the body almost always deprives the patient of a chance for recovery.

According to world statistics, patients with kidney cancer have the following life expectancy:

  • in stage 1 kidney cancer – 81% survival rate
  • with stage 2 kidney cancer – 74% survival;
  • with stage 3 kidney cancer – 53% survival;
  • in stage 4 kidney cancer, the survival rate is only 8%.

Currently, in the fight against kidney cancer, doctors are using the latest techniques, thanks to which the life expectancy of patients has increased to 71.5%:

  • after cancer detection, 53% of patients survive to 5 years;
  • after the detection of cancer, 43% of patients survive to 10 years.

Selenium reduces the risk of cancer by 2 times.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

In most patients diagnosed with kidney cancer, this disease is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • strong pain in the lumbar region;
  • when defecating, the patient discovers an admixture of blood in the urine;
  • the appearance of renal colic;
  • chronic fatigue;
  • general weakness and lethargy;
  • sudden weight loss;
  • pain when urinating;
  • loss of appetite;
  • excessive sweating;
  • arterial hypertension;
  • swelling of the lower extremities;
  • temperature rise;
  • deep vein thrombosis;
  • liver dysfunction;
  • an increase in the size of the affected kidney (the tumor becomes palpable on palpation), etc…
Kidney Cancer
Kidney Cancer

With metastasis of internal organs in patients with kidney cancer, certain symptoms are observed:

  • brain metastases – severe headaches, development of neuralgia;
  • lung metastases – severe cough; coughing up blood;
  • liver metastases – jaundice, pain in the right hypochondrium, bitterness in the mouth;
  • bone metastases – fractures, pain when moving limbs, etc.

Malignant neoplasms of small size often develop asymptomatically, and therefore, the patient is diagnosed with cancer already at the stage at which other organs are affected by metastases.

Kidney Cancer Causes

The reasons for the appearance of malignant neoplasms in the kidneys include the following:

  • Bad Habits. Smoking brings great harm to the human body, since nicotine contains carcinogens that have a detrimental effect on the renal tissue. According to available statistics, among people who are diagnosed with kidney cancer, the majority of patients had this addiction;
  • Excess Weight. Even at an early stage of obesity, people can develop malignant neoplasms in the kidneys. Eating fatty and junk food significantly increases the risk of cancer;
  • Injuries and Falls. Any mechanical effect on the kidneys can provoke the appearance of a malignant neoplasm;
  • Medicines. Continuous use of medications, in the treatment of various diseases, increases the risk of a tumor;
  • Genetic Predisposition. In some cases, poor heredity is the cause of kidney cancer;
  • Contact with chemistry and radiation;
  • Serious chronic diseases, etc.

Stages and Degrees of Kidney Cancer

Modern medicine has determined the stages of development of kidney cancer. Thanks to the existing classification, specialists are able to determine with high accuracy:

  • course of the disease;
  • the structure of the malignant neoplasm;
  • the degree of its development, etc.

Most of the narrowly specialized specialists involved in the treatment of kidney cancer use the international classification of this disease called TNM for diagnosis, where:

  • M – allows you to identify the presence of metastases (even distant ones) in the patient’s body;
  • N – assesses the condition of the patient’s lymph nodes;
  • T – allows the specialist to assess the primary focus of malignant neoplasm.

In addition to the international classification, the Robson classification, which distinguishes 4 stages of this disease, helps to assess the state of a cancer.

Stage 1 – Kidney Cancer

The first stage of the development of a malignant neoplasm very often passes unnoticed by the patient. A cancerous tumor in most cases does not exceed 2.5 cm in diameter. It is located within its capsule and does not extend beyond the edges of the kidney, which makes it difficult to detect on palpation. If patients are diagnosed with this disease at the first stage, then in 90% of cases they will be guaranteed recovery and a quick return to the usual rhythm of life.

Stage 2 Kidney Cancer

In the second stage, the size of the cancerous tumor begins to increase. The malignant neoplasm grows slightly. At this stage of development, the tumor is also difficult to diagnose (hardware and laboratory examination is required). With timely detection of cancer, patients continue to have a favorable prognosis.

Stage 3 Kidney Cancer

At the third stage of the development of a cancerous neoplasm, the tumor can significantly increase in size. Very often, a malignant neoplasm spreads to the adrenal glands. Cancer cells begin to invade the lymph nodes and can affect the renal or inferior vena cava.

Stage 4 Kidney Cancer

The fourth stage of development is accompanied by active growth of a malignant neoplasm. Patients develop metastases in different organs: lungs, liver, intestines, etc. This stage of development of a cancerous tumor requires immediate surgical intervention. Patients have significantly reduced chances of successful recovery.

Renal Cancer Metastases

In 40-60% of patients who have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, after a while, metastases are found that affect various organs, depending on the severity of the disease and the location of the malignant neoplasm.

Kidney Cancer

Most often, cancer patients develop metastases in the following organs:

  • In the liver;
  • In the lungs;
  • In the brain;
  • In the adrenal glands;
  • In the lymph nodes;
  • In the spine;
  • In the skeletal system;
  • In the costal-clavicular space, etc.

In modern medicine, the process of metastasis refers to the manifestation of clinical signs of secondary foci of malignant neoplasms. In some cancer patients, metastases are detected 10 years after the appearance of a stage 1 cancer. In the case when the lungs affect single metastases, then for patients there is a chance that they independently regress. Early diagnosis gives patients a high chance of successful treatment and a speedy recovery.

Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

At an appointment with a urologist, a patient who has complaints of pain in the kidney area will undergo an initial examination. A narrow-profile specialist will collect a medical history, palpate, and prescribe the necessary tests. In order to confirm their assumptions and make an accurate diagnosis, the patient is assigned hardware diagnostics.

When carrying out diagnostic measures, the purpose of which is to identify a malignant neoplasm in the kidneys, specialists prescribe various examinations for their patients:

  • ultrasonic;
  • laboratory;
  • radioisotope;
  • X-ray, etc.

To confirm the preliminary diagnosis of kidney cancer, the specialist needs to familiarize himself with the results of his patient’s laboratory examination.

All patients without exception are recommended to pass the following tests:

  • biochemical and clinical blood test;
  • cytology;
  • urine analysis (general), etc.

If there is a malignant neoplasm in the kidneys, which is confirmed by laboratory tests, the doctor may prescribe an additional hardware examination for the patient.

Determination of tumor localization can be performed by:

  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • computed tomography;
  • radionuclide scanning;
  • radiopaque urography;
  • renal angiography;
  • excretory urography;
  • nephroscintigraphy, etc.

In most cases, patients with kidney cancer are biopsied under the supervision of an ultrasound machine. During this procedure, the doctor makes a closed puncture to the patient, which is necessary for the collection of biological material from the malignant neoplasm. The obtained samples of cancerous tissues are transferred for morphological examination.

On a mandatory basis, patients are sent for an X-ray of the broncho-pulmonary system and an ultrasound examination of the gastrointestinal tract. Additional diagnostics allows you to determine the presence of metastases in the patient’s body.