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Kidney cancer (also known as renal cancer) is a disease which starts with growth formation in the kidney tubules (the tiny tubes that the kidney is riddled with). From there, the cancer can grow and then spread on to other organs (metastasize). The good thing is that the kidney cancer is fairly easy to detect early, which makes it easier to treat it successfully (all cancers are easier to treat the earlier they are detected), however, in some cases the tumors can grow quite large and start to metastasize.
The kidneys are the two bean-shaped organs which lie to the either side of the spine in the lower abdomen. The main job of the kidneys is to clear your blood from toxins, remove waste products and produce urine, which is used to pass the toxins and waste products from the body.
Causes of Kidney Cancer
As with most cancers, there isn’t a set of specific causes which can be attributed to the cancer cell formation in your body. However, it is known that there are certain risk factors which make it more likely that a person will develop a kidney cancer. These include:
Age – Kidney cancer is most often found in people over 40.
Smoking – Smoking cigarettes and cigars doubles the chances of getting a kidney cancer.
Sex – Males are twice as susceptible to developing kidney cancer as women.
Obesity – The extra weight from being obese may influence changes in the hormones, which, in turn, might lead to kidney cancer formation.
Pain medications use – Certain pain medication, if used for a long time, have a chance to cause kidney cancer to develop. This goes both for over-the-counter and prescriptive medication.
Advanced kidney disease – Having an advanced kidney disease or being on dialysis for a long time can have cancerous effect on the kidneys.
Genetics – Certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Landau disease or inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma, increase the risk of renal cancer.
Exposure to chemicals – Asbestos, cadmium, benzene, some organ solvents and/or certain herbicides can all cause the cancer to form. Professions working with these chemicals should get checked at regular intervals.
High blood pressure –It is not certain yet whether it is the high blood pressure itself that drives up the risk of having renal cancer, or the medication that is used to treat it.
Skin color – Being black makes people more susceptible to renal cancer, although the doctors don’t yet know why this is the case.
Having lymphoma – For reasons unknown, patients with lymphoma run a higher risk of getting kidney cancer than others.
You should note that having one of these conditions does not at all guarantee that you will get kidney cancer, just like not having any of them is not a guarantee that you will stay cancer-free.
However, the doctors have concluded that these are the risk factors for this kind of cancer, and those who are within these factors should get checked for renal cancer at regular time periods, in order to catch the disease early (if it does develop).
Kidney Cancer Symptoms
As with all cancers, the symptoms in the early stages of development are non-existent or are rare and difficult to place. As the cancer grows, the symptoms become more prominent, and they may include:
Blood in the urine
A lump in the side or in the abdomen
Loss of appetite
Pain in the side that doesn’t go away
Weight loss for seemingly no reason
Lasting fever which is not caused by a cold or an infection
Ankles and legs swelling
If the cancer spreads to other body parts, it can cause somewhat different symptoms, such as:
Shortness of breath
Coughing up blood
Pain in the bones
Kidney Cancer Ablation Treatments
Kidney Cancer Ablation Treatments
Whenever possible, the primary solution for kidney cancer is surgery. However, sometimes there are cases of patients being too sick to have surgery or the surgery is otherwise impossible. When this is the case, the doctors recommend other means to destroy or lessen the tumor, such as cryotherapy (cryoablation), radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and arterial embolization.
Cryoablation – This treatment revolves around using extreme cold to destroy the cancer cells inside the kidney. Watching the imaging of the tumor during the procedure, the doctors use a hollow probe (or a needle) and insert it into the tumor, either laparoscopically or through the skin (percutaneously). Once inside the tumor, cold gasses are passed through the needle, which then form an ice ball at the top. This ice ball destroys the tumor, while leaving the nearby tissues almost intact.
Radiofrequency Ablation – The procedure for RFA is similar to cryoablation. It also needs a needle to be inserted into the tumor. However, with RFA, instead of cold gasses, electrical current it passed through the needle, which then heats the cancer cells and destroys the tumor. The placement of the probe is guided by ultrasound imaging or CT scans. It is usually an outpatient procedure, and it uses local anesthesia (at the point where the needle is inserted).
Arterial embolization – By using this technique, the doctors block the artery that feeds blood to the kidney, thus killing both the kidney and the tumor. A small catheter is inserted in the inner thigh artery and is moved to the point where it reaches the renal artery. When it reaches this point, the doctors inject the material designed to block the blood supply to the kidney. This procedure is rarely used, but it can be used in preparation for surgery, to reduce the bleeding either before or during radical nephrectomy (kidney-removing surgery).
Benefits of Kidney Cancer Ablation
Kills tumors without kidney removal (except arterial embolization)
Laparoscopic, quick outpatient treatments
Treatments can be a preparation for surgery, if the patient is too sick to have one immediately
Less expensive procedure than other treatment options
Has no effect on blood pressure
While these ablation therapies are still relatively new, more and more doctors are starting to do them. The most important thing to finding a good doctor for kidney cancer ablation is for them to be specialized and experienced in these kinds of treatments. Look for doctors with both international and national (from the doctor’s country of origin) certifications and accreditations.
If you would like to know more about Kidney Cancer Ablation Treatments abroad, feel free to contact us!
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