Screening for Kidney Cancer in Dallas County TX
Kidney cancer is also known as renal cancer. The cancerous cells tend to begin in the tiny tubes of the kidney, which is diagnosed as renal cell carcinoma, hence the name “renal cancer”. Luckily, in most cases, kidney cancer is found before they spread.
Kidney cancer is actually the 6th most common cancer in men, but women can get kidney cancer, too. About only 4% of cancer cases are diagnosed to be kidney cancer, however this tends to affect a specific demographic, so understanding risk factors is very important.
What are the risk factors of kidney cancer?
It’s very unlikely that you’ll get kidney cancer if you don’t fall into a couple of these categories:
- Over the age of 50
- You have advanced kidney disease
- Family history of kidney cancer
- High blood pressure
- African American
- Exposure to certain substances in the workplace
Keep in mind, having these risk factors doesn’t mean that any of them cause kidney cancer on their own, they just increase the risk of it happening. However, if you can remove some of these risk factors, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting kidney cancer, such as losing weight, quitting smoking and reducing blood pressure. Those ones specifically also have a plethora of other health benefits.
Symptoms of renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer)
Note that these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have kidney cancer, but if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and also fit into a few of the risk factors above, consult with your doctor about getting a screening. These symptoms are in order of how common they are, with the most common at the top:
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal mass
- Back or flank pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood cell counts (anemia)
- Symptoms of metastases (secondary malignant growths away from the primary site of cancer)
- High calcium in blood
- High blood cell counts
Symptoms below the line are way less common (less than 10% of kidney cancer patients have these symptoms), but they are important to note. The first three symptoms are the most common.
How do you Diagnose Kidney Cancer?
First, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and discuss with you your medical history and current symptoms. If they think it warrants you getting an exam, they will most likely refer you to a radiologist such as SWDCMI to get a CT scan, PET scan, MRI or ultrasound. Unlike most other cancers, doctors can often diagnose kidney cancer fairly certainly based on imaging tests without doing a biopsy (removing a sample of the tumor to be looked at under a microscope). In some patients, however, a biopsy may be needed to be sure.
CT and MRI exams are typically used to detect the staging of the cancer if it exists, where there are 4 staging groups of kidney cancer, with categories underneath.
What are the Stages of Kidney Cancer?
Stage I. During this stage, the tumor can be up to 2 3/4 inches in diameter. The tumor is confined to the kidney.
Stage II. The tumor is now larger than 2 3/4 inches in diameter and is still confined to the kidney.
Stage III. The tumor now extends beyond the kidney to the surrounding tissue and may spread the the nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV. The Cancer now spreads outside the kidney to multiple lymph nodes and distant parts of the body such as the bones, liver or lungs.
How do you treat Kidney Cancer?
- Removing the affected kidney (nephrectomy)
- Removing the tumor from the kidney (partial nephrectomy)
- Treatment to freeze cancer cells (cryoablation)
- Treatment to heat cancer cells (radiofrequency ablation)
- Surgery to remove as much of the kidney tumor as possible.
- Drugs that use your immune system to fight cancer (biological therapy).
- Targeted Therapy
- Radiation Therapy
- Clinical Trials
You can learn more about PET and CT imaging for Kidney Cancer at cancer.org