Understanding the Causes of Kidney Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in the U.S. The observed five-year survival rate of people who are diagnosed with kidney cancer depends on the stage of the cancer.
The American Cancer Society reports that people who are diagnosed with stage one kidney cancer have a five-year survival rate of 81 percent, and people who have stage two kidney cancer have a five-year survival rate of 74 percent. Those who are diagnosed with stage three kidney cancer have a five-year survival rate of 53 percent, and those who are diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer have a five-year survival rate of eight percent.
Getting a diagnosis of kidney cancer can be scary for most people. With proper treatment, it is possible for people to recover from the disease. There are several common treatments that you might undergo if you have kidney cancer. There are also come complementary treatments that you might consider in addition to your medical treatment.
What Is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer is cancer that originates in the kidneys. The American Cancer Society reports that 90 percent of people who are diagnosed with kidney cancer have renal cell carcinomas. Kidney cancer happens when the cells in the kidney begin to grow uncontrollably and form cancerous tumors. The cells may metastasize and spread to other parts of the body as cancer progresses. Renal cell carcinomas normally begin as single tumors in one kidney, but they may also form more than two tumors or affect both kidneys.
Between five and 10 percent of kidney cancers are transitional cell carcinomas. These cancers occur in the lining where the kidneys meet the ureters. Children may develop Wilms tumors, which almost always happen in children and are very rare among adults. Finally, renal sarcomas are rare cancers of the kidney, affecting one percent of those who are diagnosed with kidney cancer. Renal sarcomas start in the connective tissue or blood vessels of the kidneys.
Signs and Symptoms
According to Mayo Clinic, kidney cancer may be asymptomatic in its earliest stages. Common signs and symptoms of kidney cancer in its later stages may include the following:
- Blood in the urine
- Persistent pain in your side or back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Intermittent fever
These symptoms often do not appear until kidney cancer has passed into its later stages. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see your doctor promptly.
Common Treatment Options
The types of treatments that you might undergo will depend on the stage of your kidney cancer. People who have stage one or two kidney cancer normally have surgery to remove the tumors. They may have partial nephrectomies, which are removals of portions of the kidney, or radical nephrectomies, which are removals of the whole kidney. People who have stage three kidney cancer, in which cancer has spread to lymph nodes, may have surgery to remove the affected lymph nodes. Veins in which cancer has grown may also need to be removed. After surgery, people may undergo adjuvant therapy for a year by taking a targeted drug called sunitinib.
Radiation or chemotherapy may also be used. In people who are unable to have kidney surgery because of other medical conditions, arterial embolization, radiofrequency ablation, or cryotherapy may be used to help to stop the spread of cancer. People who have small kidney tumors may have active surveillance, which is checking the tumors with CT scans or ultrasounds to see if they grow. If they do, then surgery may be performed.
People who have stage four kidney cancer may still have the tumor removed surgically if cancer has metastasized to one other area in the body. People may also receive a targeted therapy or immunotherapy with interleukin-2. People who have poor prognoses may also go through clinical trials.
Kidney cancer treatments can have a negative impact on the body, making it important for you to eat a healthy diet so that you can remain strong. The types of foods that you should eat when you are receiving treatment for kidney cancer are the same types of foods that you should eat when you are on a healthy diet. You should make certain to eat between five to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. You should also eat whole grains. Your nutritionist is likely to recommend that you eat plenty of high-calorie foods so that you can maintain your weight.
There are several types of foods that you should avoid when you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, including the following:
- Foods containing oxalate, including tea, spinach, nuts, tofu, rhubarb, beets, and dark, leafy green vegetables
- High amounts of animal proteins
- High potassium foods such as chocolate, avocado, broccoli, figs, and others
- Foods that are high in phosphorous such as liver, yogurt, and beans
Other complementary treatments that may help you to feel better while you undergo treatment might include acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal remedies, and emotional support. Practicing yoga and meditation may also help to reduce the stress that you might experience when you are dealing with kidney cancer. Many cancer patients also take antioxidant vitamins, including vitamins C, E, and A along with lycopene and beta-carotene.
If you are experiencing symptoms that make you think that you might have kidney cancer, it is important for you to see your doctor so that you can get properly diagnosed. While a kidney cancer diagnosis may be frightening, it is possible for you to improve your prognosis by getting the proper treatment as soon as possible.