Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer happens when normal cells in the bladder change into abnormal cells, and grow out of control.  People have 2 kidneys, 1 on each side of the mid-back.  The kidneys’ job is to filter the blood and remove waste and excess salt and water.  Urine is made up of these ingredients.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Smaller kidney tumors do not always cause symptoms.  But large tumors and tumors that have spread outside the kidney can cause symptoms such as:

  • Blood in the urine, which makes your urine look pink or red
  • Pain on the sides of your lower back, in your side, or in your stomach
  • A lump in your belly or on the side of your back
  • Weight loss that you cannot explain

These symptoms can also be caused by conditions that are not bladder cancer.  But if you have any of these symptoms, you should be checked by a doctor or nurse.

Diagnosis of Kidney Cancer

Is there a test for kidney cancer?  Yes.  If you have symptoms of kidney cancer, your doctor or nurse might order a test to check your kidneys.  These tests can show tumors or abnormal growths.  They create images of your kidneys in different ways, and they include:

  • Ultrasounds (uses sound waves to create images)
  • CT scan (a type of X-ray)
  • MRI (uses magnets to create images)

Treatment of Kidney Cancer

What is kidney cancer staging?  Cancer staging is a way in which doctors find out how far a cancer has spread.  The right treatment for you will depend a lot on the stage of your cancer.

People with kidney cancer often have one or both of the following treatments:

  • Surgery – When cancer is confined to the kidney, it is usually treated with surgery with the aim for cure. This can involve removing all or part of the affected kidney.  The decision about how much of the affected kidney to remove depends on different things, including how well the other kidney works.
  • Medical Therapy – Different medicines can also be used to treat kidney cancer, particularly if it cannot be removed or if there is evidence it has spread. This might include:
    • Medicines that stimulate your body’s infection fighting system to attack the cancer.

Biologic treatments that block blood vessels or proteins in your body that help the cancer grow.