It is important to realize that with timely diagnosis and kidney cancer treatment in Delhi, kidney cancer can be cured. If found early, the survival rate for patients with kidney cancer ranges from 79 to 100 percent. The following information addresses the most common questions about kidney tumors and serves as a supplement to the discussion that you have with your uro oncologist in Delhi.
What happens under normal conditions?
Most people have two functional kidneys. The kidneys produce urine that drains through narrow tubes (called ureters) into the bladder. The kidneys are usually located in each flank protected by muscles of the back and rib cage. The kidneys are contained within a fibrous sheath called the Gerota’s fascia and surrounded by a layer of fat. The kidney capsule is a thin layer that covers the outer surface of the kidney (similar to the red peel of an apple). The primary vein that drains the kidney (renal vein) merges with the vein that takes blood to the heart (vena cava). An adrenal gland is located above each kidney within Gerota’s fascia.
The adrenal glands, which are not part of the kidney, are located near the top of each kidney. The adrenal glands regulate blood sugar, potassium, body fluids and sex hormones. They also control the body’s response to stress by producing a hormone called adrenaline.
The kidney is the main filter of the body and thus performs many bodily functions, such as controlling fluid balance, regulating electrolytes (e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium), preventing acid buildup, eliminating waste products, producing urine, and regulating blood pressure. The kidney also manufactures a hormone called erythropoietin that stimulates the production of red blood cells.
When the kidneys are damaged or a significant portion of kidney tissue is removed, the normal processes listed above may be impaired. In most cases, mild to moderate impairment causes very minor problems. In cases when kidney function is severely impaired, dialysis may be required.
What is a kidney tumor?
A kidney tumor is an abnormal growth within the kidney. The terms “mass,” “lesion” and “tumor” are often used interchangeably. Tumors may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant(cancerous). The most common kidney lesion is a fluid-filled area called a cyst. Simple cysts are benign and have a typical appearance on imaging studies. They do not progress to cancer and usually require no follow-up or treatment. Solid kidney tumors can be benign but are cancerous more than 80 percent of the time.
What are the risk factors associated with kidney cancer?
The following associations may increase the risk of developing kidney cancer:
- family history of kidney cancer
- chronic kidney failure and/or dialysis
- diet with high caloric intake or fried/sauteed meat
- Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
- tuberous sclerosis
What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
Many kidney tumors do not produce symptoms but may be detected incidentally during the evaluation of an unrelated problem or during routine screening for people who are in high-risk categories (e.g. Von Hippel-Lindau disease, tuberous sclerosis). Compression, stretching and invasion of structures near the kidney may cause pain (in the flank, abdomen or back), palpable mass, and blood in the urine (microscopic or grossly visible). If cancer spreads (metastasizes) beyond the kidney, symptoms depend upon the involved organ. Shortness of breath or coughing up blood may occur when cancer is in the lung, bone pain or fracture may occur when cancer is in the bone and neurologic symptoms may occur when cancer is in the brain. In some cases, the cancer causes associated clinical or laboratory abnormalities called paraneoplastic syndromes. These syndromes are observed in approximately 20 percent of patients with kidney cancer and can occur at any stage (including cancers confined to the kidney). Symptoms from paraneoplastic syndromes include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, sweats and high blood pressure. Laboratory findings include elevated red blood cell sedimentation rate, low blood count (anemia), high calcium level in the blood, abnormal liver function tests, elevated alkaline phosphatase in the blood, and high blood count. In many cases, the paraneoplastic syndrome resolves after the cancer is removed.
How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
Unfortunately, there are no blood or urine tests that directly detect the presence of kidney tumors.
When a kidney tumor is suspected, a kidney imaging study is obtained. The initial imaging study is usually an ultrasound or CT scan. In some cases, a combination of imaging studies may be required to completely evaluate the tumor. If cancer is suspected, the patient should be evaluated to see if cancer has spread beyond the kidney (metastasis). An evaluation for metastasis includes an abdominal CT scan or MRI, chest X-ray, and blood tests. A bone scan is also recommended if the patient has bone pain, recent bone fractures, or certain abnormalities on their blood tests. Additional tests may be obtained when indicated. Kidney cancer has the tendency to grow into the renal vein and vena cava. The portion of cancer that extends into these veins is called “tumor thrombus.” Imaging studies,