Renal Cell Cancer

Renal Cell Cancer

Zain Syed
Zain Syed

What is Renal Cell Cancer?

Renal cell cancer is when you have cells in your kidneys are growing improperly. Renal cell cancer also called renal cell adenocarcinoma or kidney cancer, is a disease where the cancer cells are found in the lining of the tubules( tiny tubes) in the kidney.

Kidney cancer symptoms:

  •         Blood in the urine is the most common kidney cancer symptom.
  •         A lump or mass on the side or lower back
  •         Unexplained fever for a few weeks
  •         Unintentional weight loss
  •         Lingering dull ache or pain in the side, abdomen, or lower back
  •         Feeling fatigued or in poor health
  •         Swelling of ankles and legs, These symptoms do not always mean you have kidney cancer. 

However, discussing any symptoms with your doctor is essential since they may signal other health problems.

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have kidney cancer, they will do a diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan gives the Doctor a detailed 3D scan.

If they find that there might be cancer, they may do a positron emission tomography (PET) scan that can detect cancer that the CT scan could not by using radioactive sugar. Cancer cells will use sugar much faster than our normal body cells.

If the PET scan confirms what the CT scan shows, then the final step to confirming you have cancer is taking some tissue from the cancerous areas to test. This is called a biopsy.

Once they have all the information, they will determine your cancer stage. The stage of cancer will help your doctor decide how to treat you. Staging is done on a numerical scale of 1-4. The higher the number, the more it has grown.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history

Treatment

The general rule of thumb with cancers in your tissue (solid tumor cancers) is if they can remove that tissue, they will do that. There are some reasons they would not be able to remove the tissue. If the tissue is too large, they may need to shrink it by using radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of both. If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, surgery is not always an option.

Follow-Up

After completing your therapy, you will follow up with your doctor every 3-6 months for the first 2-3 years. They may repeat your scans and blood work to ensure that the cancer is not returning or growing.

Your doctor might want to see you sooner if they think it is medically necessary.

Things to think about:

  • Always get a second opinion. Healthcare professionals are humans and can see things differently.
  • A biopsy is a gold standard for diagnosing solid tumor cancers. You should not just start therapy without having one.
  • If you are feeling ill, having nausea, or anything out of the ordinary during your treatment, let your treatment team know! They might be able to help you. Remember, they are trying to help you, not make you miserable.
  • The best way to fight cancer is to catch it early. So, see your doctor yearly for a physical and screen early, especially if you have risk factors. The slight inconvenience is worth it!

 

Zain Syed
Zain Syed
I am a Pharmacist specializing in oncology and pain management. I have worked in various settings, including Infusion, Clinic, Inpatient, Outpatient, and Investigational Drug Services. The lack of access, financial struggles, and people falling through the cracks leads to worse outcomes and increased costs. I chose healthcare to help people and want to help at scale, my mission and passion, not just one person at a time. Cancer can be a lonely journey, but it does not have to be. I look forward to building a community that educates and supports each other through difficult times.

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