Kidney Cancer

What Is Kidney Cancer?

Cancer Treatment Services in Orange County, CA

Kidney Cancer - CyberKnife OCAt Orange County CyberKnife, we pride ourselves on providing world-class cancer treatment services throughout the Orange County, CA area. As a leading provider of cutting-edge CyberKnife radiation therapy, we’re able to treat cancers all over the body using a convenient, effective, and safe cancer treatment that produces minimal side effects and minimal disruption to day-to-day life. We can treat a variety of cancers from our Orange County facility, and if you or a loved one have developed kidney cancer, our treatment team is here to help.

About Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, about the size of a fist, that sit in the lower abdomen on either side of your spine. The kidneys clean toxins and waste products from the blood, transporting them to the bladder and helping to keep your vascular system healthy and functioning properly. The vast majority of kidney cancers are renal cell carcinoma, which forms in tiny tubules within the kidney. Thankfully, kidney cancer is often found early on, before it metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Often, kidney cancer produces no symptoms, especially early on in the development of the cancer. However, as a tumor grows larger, it may produce a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Bloody urine
  • An unusual lump in the abdomen, side, or back
  • Chronic loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Unexplained, extreme fatigue
  • Swollen legs or ankles
  • Persistent fever that isn’t from a cold or sickness and doesn’t go away for weeks

Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer

While scientists still aren’t sure of the exact causes of kidney cancer, there are a number of factors that can increase risk:

  • Tobacco consumption
  • Obesity
  • Chronic use of certain pain medications
  • High blood pressure
  • A family history of kidney cancer
  • Exposure to certain chemicals like asbestos, cadmium, or some herbicides
  • Men are at a higher risk for kidney cancer
  • African-Americans are at a higher risk for kidney cancer

Schedule an Appointment with Your Orange County, CA Cancer Treatment Specialists

Thankfully, if kidney cancer is detected and diagnosed early, treatment is often successful. At Orange County CyberKnife, we’ve helped countless patients throughout the Orange County area beat kidney cancer as well as a wide variety of other cancerous conditions. If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with cancer, we know that this is probably a difficult time – but remember that you’re never alone. Call us today at 714.962.7100 or reach out to us at our contact page to discuss how we can help you beat cancer and reclaim total health. We’ll work with you to design a cancer treatment plan that works with your lifestyle, helping you overcome cancer and return to a normal, happy lifestyle.

Kidney Cancer: Detection & Treatment Options

You should see a GP if you have any symptoms of kidney cancer, such as blood in your urine or a constant pain below your ribs. Your GP will examine you and, if they think your symptoms need further assessment, refer you to a specialist urologist (a doctor who specialises in conditions that affect the urinary tract). If you notice blood in your urine, your GP will usually carry out a blood test and take a urine sample. The results will help rule out other possible causes, such as infection or kidney stones. In 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidelines to help GPs recognise the signs and symptoms of renal (kidney) cancer and refer people for the right tests faster.

If you need to be referred urgently, you’ll usually be seen within two weeks

General treatment information

In cancer care, different types of doctors often work together to create a patient’s overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. This is called a multidisciplinary team. For kidney cancer, the health care team is usually led by a urologist, a doctor who specializes in the genitourinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, genitals, prostate, and testicles, or a urologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the urinary tract. Cancer care teams also include a variety of other health care professionals, including physician assistants, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, and others.

Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. Your care plan may also include treatment for symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer care. Take time to learn about all of your treatment options and be sure to ask questions about things that are unclear. Also, talk about the goals of each treatment with your doctor and what you can expect while receiving treatment. Learn more about making treatment decisions.

Kidney cancer is most often treated with surgery, targeted therapy, and/or immunotherapy. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are occasionally used. Patients with kidney cancer that has spread (metastatic cancer, see below) often receive multiple lines of therapy, which are treatments given one after another. Descriptions of these treatment options are listed below.

The main treatments for stomach cancer are:

  • Surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy  Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Often the best approach uses 2 or more of these treatment methods.


Kidney Cancer: Types & Stages

Using the TNM system, the “T” plus a letter or number (0 to 4) is used to describe the size and location of the tumor. Some stages are also divided into smaller groups that help describe the tumor in even more detail. This helps the doctor develop the best treatment plan for each patient. If there is more than one tumor, the lowercase letter “m” (multiple) is added to the “T” stage category. Specific tumor stage information for kidney cancer is listed below.

TX:The primary tumor cannot be evaluated

T1:The tumor is found only in the kidney and is 7 centimeters (cm) or smaller at its largest area. There has been much discussion among doctors about whether this classification should only include a tumor 5 cm or smaller.

  • T1a:The tumor is found only in the kidney and is 4 cm or smaller at its largest area.
  • T1b:The tumor is found only in the kidney and is between 4 cm and 7 cm at its largest area.

T2:The tumor is found only in the kidney and is larger than 7 cm at its largest area.

  • T2a:The tumor is only in the kidney and is more than 7 cm but not more than 10 cm at its largest area.
  •  T2b:The tumor is only in the kidney and is more than 10 cm at its largest area.

T3:The tumor has grown into major veins within the kidney or perinephric tissue, which is the connective, fatty tissue around the kidneys. However, it has not grown into the adrenal gland on the same side of the body as the tumor. The adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney and produce hormones and adrenaline to help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other body functions. In addition, the tumor has not spread beyond Gerota’s fascia, an envelope of tissue that surrounds the kidney.

  • T3a:The tumor has spread to the large vein leading out of the kidney, called the renal vein, or the muscular branches of the renal vein, or it has spread to the fat surrounding the kidney and/or the fat inside the kidney. The tumor has not grown beyond Gerota’s fascia.
  • T3b:The tumor has grown into the large vein that drains into the heart, called the inferior vena cava, below the diaphragm, the muscle under the lungs that helps breathing.
  •  T3c:The tumor has spread to the vena cava above the diaphragm and into the right atrium of the heart or to the walls of the vena cava.

T4:The tumor has spread to areas beyond Gerota’s fascia and extends into the adrenal gland on the same side of the body as the tumor. The “N” in the TNM staging system stands for lymph nodes, the tiny, bean­shaped organs that help fight infection. Lymph nodes near the kidneys are called regional lymph nodes. Lymph nodes in other parts of the body are called distant lymph nodes.

NX:The regional lymph nodes cannot be evaluated.

N0:The cancer has not spread to the regional lymph nodes

N1:The cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes.

The “M” in the TNM system indicates whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, called distant metastasis. Common areas where kidney cancer may spread include the bones, liver, lungs, brain, and distant lymph nodes.

M0:The disease has not metastasized.

M1:The cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the kidney area. Doctors assign the stage of the cancer by combining the T, N, and M classifications.

Stage I:The tumor is 7 cm or smaller and is only located in the kidney. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs (T1, N0, M0).

Stage II:The tumor is larger than 7 cm and is only located in the kidney. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs (T2, N0, M0).

Stage III:Either of these conditions:

  •  A tumor of any size is located only in the kidney. It has spread to the regional lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body (T1, T2; N1; M0).
  • The tumor has grown into major veins or perinephric tissue and may or may not have spread to regional lymph nodes. It has not spread to other parts of the body (T3; any N; M0).

Stage IV:Either of these conditions:

  • The tumor has spread to areas beyond Gerota’s fascia and extends into the adrenal gland on the same side of the body as the tumor, possibly to lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body (T4; any N; M0).
  • The tumor has spread to any other organ, such as the lungs, bones, or the brain (any T, any N, M1).

Kidney Cancer: FAQs

Answer :

The kidneys are 2 bean­shaped organs. Each is about the size of a fist. You have 1 on either side of your spine in the middle­to­lower back. They have 2 main roles:

  • Filter waste from the blood and make urine
  • Make the hormone erythropoietin that controls the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow
  • Help regulate blood pressure

Most people are born with 2 kidneys, but you can survive with only 1. You can also survive with no kidneys. People with no kidneys or kidneys that don’t work survive with the help of dialysis. Dialysis uses a special machine to filter the blood.

Answer :

This is cancer that starts in the kidney. The most common type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The term renalis from the Latin word for kidney. About 90% of all kidney cancers are RCC. The other 10% are transitional cell carcinomas, Wilms tumors (in children), and other rare tumors.

Answer :

Yes, there are many different types of RCC. A pathologist can name them under a microscope based on how they look. Here are some of the types:

  • Clear cell, the most common type of RCC
  • Papillary, the second most common type
  • Chromophobe
  • Collecting duct, which is very rare
Answer :

More than 60,000 people in the United States are told they have kidney cancer each year. Men get kidney cancer more often than women. People who smoke are more likely to get kidney cancer than nonsmokers. Here are some other risk factors:

  • Having Von Hippel­Lindau disease
  • Family history of kidney cancer
  • Obesity
  • Regular contact with chemicals, such as cadmium, benzene, or asbestos

However, many people with kidney cancer have no known risk factors.

Answer :

In the early stages, kidney cancer often causes no symptoms. As the cancer grows, symptoms may develop. The most common symptoms in people with kidney cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Side or back pain
  • A mass or lump in the side or lower back
  • Ongoing tiredness
  • Appetite loss Fast weight loss
  • that happens without any effort to lose weight
  • Fever with no known cause
  • Leg or ankle swelling
  • High blood pressure

People with kidney cancer may have any combination of these symptoms.

Answer :

There are various ways to find out if a person has kidney cancer. They include:

  • Medical history and physical exam.The health care provider asks about the person’s medical history. He or she also asks about the person’s family history of kidney cancer and other conditions that may be related to kidney cancer. The health care provider will also do an exam.
  • Urine test.For this test, a small amount of urine is collected in a container. It is then tested for blood, protein, bacteria, and cancer cells.
  • Blood tests.There is no blood test that can diagnose kidney cancer. But a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry test can show signs in the blood that are linked with kidney cancer.
  • Imaging tests.These are tests used to take pictures of the inside of a person’s body. They include CT scan, ultrasound, Intravenous pyelogram (IVP), angiography, and other tests.
  • Biopsy.During a biopsy, the health care provider removes a small piece of the tumor. A pathologist then looks at this sample under a microscope. For kidney cancer, the type of biopsy used is called fine needle aspiration (FNA). But a biopsy is often not done. In most cases if a CT scan or an MRI shows possible kidney cancer, surgery is most often done to remove the tumor or the entire kidney. The pathologist then looks at the tissue taken during surgery to confirm the diagnosis.
Answer :

Someone with kidney cancer may have only 1 of the following treatments. Or they may have more than 1:

  • Surgery. This is done to remove the tumor from the kidney. The whole kidney may be taken out, or only the part of the kidney with the tumor may be removed. Surgery is the standard treatment for cancer that is confined to the kidney and has not spread to other organs.
  • Targeted therapy. These medicines attack specific areas in the cancer cells or target the tumor’s blood supply. This is the most common treatment for more advanced kidney cancers. Biological therapy. This is used to treat the cancer and reduce the chance that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. This treatment uses medicines that may help stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy.This is used to kill cancer cells using high energy X­rays.
  • Chemotherapy. This is used to try to kill the cancer cells in the kidney and those that have spread to other organs.
  • Ablation therapy.There are 2 main types of ablation therapy used to treat kidney cancer. They’re both done by putting a needle into an area of cancer cells. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses energy waves to kill cancer cells. Cryoablation uses extreme cold to kill cancer cells

Health care providers are always finding new ways to treat kidney cancer. New treatments are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, it’s a good idea to ask your health care provider if there are any clinical trials that may be helpful to you.

Answer :

Many people with cancer get a second opinion from another health care provider before deciding on treatment. Here are some of the many reasons to get a second opinion:

  • You are not comfortable with the treatment decision.
  • You have a rare type of cancer.
  • There are different ways to treat the cancer.
  • You are not able to see a cancer expert.
  • Your health insurance requires a second opinion before treatment is started.
Answer :

Here are ways to find someone to give a second opinion:

Ask the health care provider for the name of a specialist. Call the Cancer Information Service. The number is 800­4­CANCER (800­422­6237). Callers can learn about centers and programs supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Call the Kidney Cancer Association. The number is 800­850­9132. Get the names of health care providers from a hospital, medical school or society, or cancer advocacy group. Ask people who have had kidney cancer for health care providers’ names.

Answer :

After a kidney is removed, the remaining kidney takes over the work of both. Most people with only 1 kidney have no long­term health problems. However, you should avoid anything that could harm the remaining kidney. It is very important to talk with your health care provider if you start taking new medicines or if you have a bladder infection or other problems that could affect your kidney. If the remaining kidney is damaged, you may need dialysis. With dialysis, a special machine does the kidneys’ job of filtering the blood.

Answer :

Researchers are looking for ways to treat and cure kidney cancer in these ways

  • Genetic therapy. Genetics is the study of genes, which are the “instructions” that direct our cells to make people what they are. Scientists are looking at several genes that may be related to the reason normal kidney cells change into cancerous cells. This may help them decide which treatments are better for certain types of RCC.
  • Biologic therapy.Biologic therapy includes new medicines that are being tested in clinical trials. Combining these medicines with other types of treatment is also being tested.
  • Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy is not very effective in fighting kidney cancer. But researchers are testing new types of medicines. They believe that understanding why kidney cancer cells are so resistant to chemotherapy will provide answers that can help make new and better chemotherapy and other treatment methods.
Answer :

Clinical trials are studies of new kinds of cancer treatments. Health care providers do clinical trials to learn how well new treatments work and what their side effects are. New treatments may then be compared to the current treatment to see if they work better or have fewer side effects. People who take part in a clinical trial may benefit from access to new treatments before the FDA approves them. The trials also help increase our understanding of cancer and help people who have cancer in the future.