Kidney cancer is the third most common urologic cancer after prostate and bladder cancer. Prof. Cemil Uygur, MD, Urologist and Director of Urooncology Center in Anadolu Medical Center says kidney cancer generally does not present with symptoms and he shared crucial information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of kidney cancer.
What are the urologic cancers?
“Urologic cancers” are the neoplastic diseases of kidneys, adrenal glands, the canals where the urine from kidneys flow, urinary bladder, as well as prostate gland and testes in men, differing from women. “Urooncology” is the department which treats this subsection of cancers.
How common is kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is the third most common urologic cancer after prostate and bladder cancer. It is much more common than testicular cancers. Kidney cancer affects 1 in nearly 10.000 people. Unfortunately, 1 in 30.000 people loses their life to kidney cancer.
What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is a very important but a treatable disease.
In our day, kidney cancers are detected in the imaging tests performed for other and unrelated reasons, before they give out any symptoms. They have usually no symptoms. Rarely pain and bleeding in urine can be seen.
The alarm threshold of pain in kidney cancer means that cancer has progressed substantially. Therefore, catching the kidney cancer as early as possible prevents the patient losing their life and also excision of only the cancer itself, rather than the entire kidney.
Blood in urine can be a sign for kidney cancer. Meanwhile, other symptoms include a palpable mass or solid area in abdomen.
We incidentally detect kidney cancer in the patients who consult to a physician due to unrelated reasons (abdominal pain and problems relating gallbladder or digestion) and undergo ultrasound, tomography or MRI imaging. Kidney cancer can be cured completely when tumor is small. Therefore, getting checked up regularly before waiting for kidney cancer to present with any symptoms allow us to catch the disease while it is in a treatable form.
What are the reasons of kidney cancer?
Reasons of kidney cancer are not fully understood. There are some risk factors, however. Kidney cancer usually present in middle-advanced age. It is seen twice as much in men than in women. Smoking and hypertension may be related to development of kidney cancer.
Being overweight, foods in high cholesterol and excessive red meat consumption may also cause the development of kidney cancer. There are also familial cancers. For example, cancers which can affect even both kidneys can develop in the families in a series which have genetic altercations. Early diagnosis is important in cancer, not its causes being familial or other. As with all cancers, early diagnosis is the key for the success of treatment.
How is kidney cancer treated?
The most effective method of treatment is surgery. Complete cure is possible if the disease is still confined within the kidney. In more advanced diseases, medication treatment is administered after surgery. Very effective medications which do not impact patient’s living quality negatively are developed in recent years.
What is the latest technology in kidney surgery?
Large incisions in kidney surgeries cause patient to suffer excruciating pain, delay wound healing and return of physical capacity for a long time, cause mobility restriction and may also give way to pain which will persist for months after discharge. It is possible to perform every step of kidney cancer treatment with minimally invasive approach via robotic surgery, meaning closed operation.
These surgeries can be performed with robotic surgery via 3 or 4 thin tubes inserted into body and via the instruments introduced with them. We only remove the mass up to a certain size (approx. 4 cm) and then we leave the remaining kidney functional for the benefit of the patient. Therefore, we can provide cancer control and survival as if the entire kidney was removed. Preservation of a portion of the kidney is a very important breakthrough in medicine field. Entire kidney was removed for a tiny tumor in the past, but the kidney is preserved as much as possible and only the mass is removed.
How long will it take for recovery?
surgery and can go home after 48 hours, by contrast with days of mobilization in open surgery.
How can we protect our kidneys?
It is crucial to consume abundant fluids and limit salt intake for kidney health. Needless painkiller usage can cause great problems in renal functions. We also need to keep our blood pressure in check to preserve our kidneys. Hypertension damages renal function. Diabetes also disrupts kidneys’ vascular structure, negatively affecting their health.
So; checking blood pressure, consuming fluids, limiting salt intake, avoiding needless or excessive painkiller usage and keeping diabetes under control are important factors for kidney health.