Kidney cancer is a broad term that encompasses all of the different types of cancer that can occur in the kidney. While cancer can start in other parts of the body and spread to the kidney (lymphoma can do this) most forms of kidney cancer originate within the kidney itself.
In order to better understand the different types of kidney cancer it is important to understand where the kidneys are and what they do. There are two kidneys, one on each side of the spine (backbone) above the waist and just underneath the ribs. The kidneys filter and clean the blood, taking out waste products and making urine. The urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through the ureter to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it is passed from the body. When a patient’s kidneys are not taking out adequate amounts of waste products, the waste products build up and a person is said to be in renal or kidney failure. If this becomes extreme the person may require dialysis or kidney transplantation.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase your risk of kidney cancer. Risk factors for developing kidney cancer include the following:
- Misusing certain pain medicines, including over-the-counter pain medicines, for a long time.
- Certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease or hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma.
- Male gender as renal cell cancer occurs more frequently in men
Often, kidney cancer doesn't have early symptoms. However, see your health care provider if you notice
- Blood in your urine
- A lump in your abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain in your side
- Loss of appetite
Treatment depends on your age, your overall health and how advanced the cancer is. It might include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or biologic therapy. Biologic therapy boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer.