May 30, 2016
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Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer facts*

*Kidney cancer facts medical author:

  • The kidneys are two organs in the body that filter the blood and remove waste material and excess water by making urine that is expelled as waste.
  • Cancer is the growth of malignant (abnormal) cells within the body.
  • Although the exact cause of kidney cancer is not known, risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, long-term dialysis, Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome, occupational exposure (coke oven workers and asbestos workers, for example) and men are at higher risk.
  • Symptoms of kidney cancer include blood in the urine, pain in the side or flank that is constant, a lump or mass in the abdomen or side, fever, weight loss, and fatigue.
  • The following tests are used to help diagnose kidney cancer: physical exam, urine tests, blood tests, intravenous pyelogram, CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound, biopsy of kidney tissue, and surgical removal of kidney tissue.
  • Kidney cancer is staged by measuring the size of the tumor, the location of the cancer cells either confined to the kidney, locally spread or widespread beyond the fibrous tissue surrounding the kidney (stages I through IV).
  • Treatment of kidney cancer includes one of or a combination of the following methods: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, embolization, biological therapy, and surgery
  • Side effects of kidney cancer treatment related to the methods used and may include nausea and vomiting, weakness, weight loss, infection, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, skin rash and hair loss.
  • After treatment, follow-up care is very important to monitor recovery and to check for any possible recurrence of kidney cancer.
  • Research is ongoing; combined chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation is an active area of research. Other studies include developing cancer vaccines to help the immune system attack cancer cells.
  • There are a number of resources available for patients who have kidney cancer; they are listed at the end of this article.


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