What comes to your mind when you think about the health of your kidneys? Well, you probably don’t give much of a thought about it unless you are suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure and cancer is the last thing you worry about because we don’t usually hear about kidney cancer. However, Dr Anup Ramani, Uro-Oncological & Robotic Surgeon, Lilavati, Breach Candy, Saifee Hospital sees at least one or two patients every week who suffer from kidney cancer. Here he shares more facts about this condition.
1. Kidney cancer is a silent killer
Like most cancers kidney cancer is silent and shows no symptoms till it is very late. Severe symptoms associated with kidney cancer such as blood in urine, pain during urination, pelvic pain come to light only during the last stages of the cancer. Mostly the cancer remains silent during the initial years. Sometimes an abdominal sonography done for other reasons reveals the presence of a tumour (malignant or benign) in the kidney.
2. It is more common for smokers and tobacco users
Many people think that lung cancer and oral cancer are more common with people who smoke and use tobacco for recreational purposes; however, their kidneys take the maximum toll because of smoking. Kidney cancer is more common in tobacco users and smokers because tobacco predisposes one to kidney cancer. The other risk factors for kidney cancer could be obesity, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and family history.
3. Sonography after 50 can help detect kidney cancer
This is a critical step in diagnosing kidney cancer. A sonography every year post 50 years of age can help detect kidney cancer early. This is more important for smokers as they are prone to suffer from kidney cancer.
4. Early detection is crucial
Like any other cancer early detection here is also crucial. Once a kidney tumor is detected, it is important to investigate how far the cancer has spread. If the tumor is limited to the kidney, one can be treated either with removing the tumour (if the tumour is small), or by removing the whole kidney (if the tumour is large). It is better to get it diagnosed before it starts to spread rapidly to other parts of the body. The most common form of removal of kidney cancer is robotic surgery which ensures minimal cut, less bleeding and speedy recovery.
5. Kidney cancer can be of two types
There are two main types of kidney cancer — renal cell cancer and transitional cell cancer. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell cancer, which begins in the lining of the renal tubules responsible for cleaning the blood and making urine. Renal cell cancer can spread to other parts of the body, most often the bones or lungs. While in case of transitional cell cancer, it happens in the middle part of the kidney called the renal pelvis. It is here where the urine gets collected and drains into the urethra. This cancer can at times spread to the urethra too. However, transitional cell cancer is very rare and uncommon. Most often, it is renal cell cancer that affects people.