The urologists at Urology Associates offer exceptional treatment for kidney cancer in both men and women. Our team will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.
Renal cell carcinoma (type of kidney cancer) accounts for around 95% of tumors originating in the kidney. Renal cell carcinoma most commonly arises in the areas of the kidney that are most metabolically active, such as the proximal convoluted tubules. This is because rapid cell turnover takes place in these sites increasing the chance for abnormal cells (cancer) to arise.
Renal cell carcinoma does not discriminate and can affect men and women of all ages. In general, however, renal cell carcinoma most commonly affects people over the age of 55. The most common presenting age for renal cell carcinoma is between 60-70 years old. Men seem to be at a slightly higher risk of developing kidney cancer. Additionally, those who smoke, have high blood pressure, are obese, have abnormal kidney anatomy, have a family history of kidney cancer, or who have undergone dialysis are at increased risk.
Approximately 20% of patients who are diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma have metastatic disease. Metastatic disease means that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. The most common organs that renal cell carcinoma metastases to are lungs, bone, regional lymph nodes, and liver.
A danger with renal cell carcinoma is the fact that it can go undetected for so long, giving it time to grow or invade other areas of the body. Kidney cancer is classically characterized by lack of warning sign and variable presentations. In other words, people may have no warning signs of renal cell carcinoma until it is found incidentally or has progressed far enough along to cause symptoms. It is important to be evaluated early for any unusual symptoms that may present as the following below:
- Hematuria (blood in urine)- almost 90% of individuals who are diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma will have blood in their urine
- Abdominal/flank pain
- Palpable mass
- Night sweats, unintentional weight loss, extreme fatigue
- Elevated blood pressure that is uncontrolled and worsening
- Hypercalcemia (high calcium levels in their blood)
- New varicocele in the left scrotum (varicocele is a dilated vein within the scrotum that could be caused by a tumor obstructing the vein to drain)
Initial diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma can be difficult due to the lack of presenting symptoms. As stated, it is often found by accident. If your urologist is suspicious of renal cell carcinoma, potential tests they may order include:
- Urine analysis/cytology– to examine the urine for blood or specific tumor markers.
- Imaging tests (Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI): These are often the most specific and sensitive for targeting renal cell carcinoma.
- Fine needle aspiration (FNA): may be utilized to take a sample of the concerning area on the kidney. In other words, an ultrasound of the kidney.
- Fuhrman grade: is based on the nuclear characteristics of the cancer and gives an indication of prognosis. It is rated 1-4 in which a higher grade implies a worse prognosis.
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