The Most Common Cancers: #9 – Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is the ninth most common form of cancer. It is marked by rapidly growing cells that form tumors in the kidneys.
In 2013, there will be about 59,938 new cases diagnosed estimates the National Cancer Institute*. Men are twice as likely to get the disease than are women, and it is estimated that there are over 100,000 men, women and children alive today in the U.S. who are kidney cancer survivors.
Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) forms in the linings of very small tubes inside the kidneys. It is the most common form of kidney cancer in adults.
Renal Pelvis Carcinoma is found in the center of the kidneys in the area where urine collects.
A third type of kidney cancer is a Wilms’ tumor, which is typically found in children under five years-old.
The typical treatment is surgical removal of the tumor. If it is caught early, the likelihood of it returning is low. However, in its early stages there are few symptoms, so it is not often diagnosed until the mass has grown large enough to be noticed and is causing problems with nearby organs.
Often, RCC is found by accident when an x-ray or ultrasound is used for some other reason.
There are several different symptoms caused by kidney cancer, the most common of which is a painless urination of blood. This happens to 40-50 percent of kidney cancer patients. If you see blood while urinating, you should contact a physician.
Other common symptoms include an abdominal mass, or a hard lump or bulge under the skin that can be seen and felt as the cancer grows. Pain in the back or flank is also common. This symptom is often confused with ordinary muscle pain in the back, which happens often to the group that experiences kidney cancer the most, men aged 40 to 60. Because back muscle pain is often ignored, kidney cancer can go undetected.
Some of the less common symptoms that might be experienced include the following:
• weight loss
• low blood counts
• high blood counts
• tumor calcification on an x-ray
• high calcium in the blood
The exact cause or causes for kidney cancer are not yet known. However, researchers have been able to identify obesity and smoking as external factors that lead to an increased risk for getting this disease.
There has also been a link between kidney cancer and several genetic disorders such as von Hippel-Landau (VHL) and Birt Hogg Dube Syndrome (BHD). These disorders do not cause kidney cancer, but those suffering with them have an increased likeliness of it occurring.
When RCC is suspected, it’s important to get tested early, and to make sure the testing is thorough and accurate because kidney cancer can spread to other parts of the body. There are a variety of tests that your doctor might order:
• Computer Tomography (CT Scan)
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
• Bone Scan
• Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
• Chest X-ray
While kidney cancer is common, it also has a high survival rate, around 71 percent. As is the case with most cancers, early detection is key. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, you should contact your physician. For more information, visit the Kidney Cancer Association. Or our OHC Cancer Database.