General Information about Kidney Cancer
The kidneys are located on either side of the body just underneath the ribcage. The function of the kidneys is to filter out waste from the blood and producing urine. Kidney tumors are usually cancerous and so most patients are advised to undergo treatment. In most cases of kidney cancer only one kidney will be affected.
Risk factors that can increase the chances of kidney cancer developing include smoking and obesity. Kidney cancer is more common among those over the age of 50 and in men.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer often shows no symptoms in the early stages. In most cases kidney cancer will be discovered through routine ultrasound scans or during tests for other health conditions.
Symptoms of kidney cancer in its advanced stages are:
- Blood in your urine
- A constant pain in your side, just below the ribs
- A lump or swelling in the kidney area (either side of the body)
Other more general symptoms can be signs of kidney cancer:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue) or anaemia
- Unintentional weight loss
- A high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above
- Night sweats
- Swelling of the veins in the testicles
- Loss of appetite
- High blood pressure
Kidney Cancer Treatments
The treatment we would recommend for kidney cancer depends on the size and location of the tumor within the kidney as well as a patient’s overall kidney function and general health.
Surgery is usually the most common first course of action for kidney cancer. The type of surgery required depends on the stage of the cancer and how far it has spread.
Surgery is not always the recommended treatment, freezing the tumor (cryoablation) or a period of surveillance may be preferable. All of this can be discussed in more detail with Mr. Keeley, our Bristol based consultant, who has extensive experience in all of these treatment options.
Occasionally despite successful treatment of the kidney cancer, the cancer comes back elsewhere in the body and requires further treatment. Treatment of kidney cancer aims to reduce this risk as much as possible. Treatment is available for metastatic kidney cancer (cancer which has spread to other parts of the body), but it tends to be less effective than treatment for localized kidney cancer.
All our Consultant Urologist Surgeons are based in Bristol and provide surgical treatment for kidney cancer at their Bristol based clinics.
For larger tumors, removal of the entire kidney (Nephrectomy) is usually necessary. For smaller tumors, removal of the tumor while preserving the healthy part of the kidney (partial nephrectomy) may be possible.
The surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes(radical nephrectomy) to make sure the cancer does not spread beyond the kidney. This can help alleviate pain and enhance the effectiveness of post surgical treatment.
Nephrectomy may be carried out in two ways: in open surgery where an incision is made in the stomach to expose the kidneys, or using keyhole surgery where smaller incisions are made in the abdomen and small surgical instruments are used to remove the kidney. Keyhole nephrectomy has a quicker recovery time than an open nephrectomy, and this is used whenever possible.
Our Urologists will be able to provide expert advice on the procedure most suitable for you.
Targeted Kidney Cancer Treatments
Medicines are available that have been developed to treat specific forms of kidney cancer. These are known as ‘targeted therapies’ as they are designed to kill or stop the spread of specific types of cancer cells by interrupting their essential processes on a molecular level.