As the name suggests, Kidney Cancer is cancer that originates in one or both kidneys. The diseases usually affects adults over 50 years old, and it is more frequent in men. The most common type in adults is renal cell carcinoma, while children often develop what is called Wilms' tumor.
The exact cause of kidney cancer is not known, but some conditions such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity or long term dialysis increase the chances of developing the condition.
Many times kidney cancer does not have any symptoms in its early stages, or many of them can be easily misinterpreted as an infection or cyst.
Kidney cancer can be diagnosed through various procedures:
The ultrasound test, the MRI and the CT scan are also useful in determining the stage of the disease:
Stage I - Cancer cells are found only in the kidney, the tumor is up to 7 centimeters ( almost 3 inches).
Stage II - Cancer cells are found only in kidney, the tumor is bigger than 7 centimeters.
Stage III - Cancer cells have spread outside the kidney, tumor has spread to the adrenal gland and fibrous tissue around the kidney.
Stage IV - Cancer cells have spread to more lymph nodes, the tumor extended beyond the fibrous tissue of the kidney, the cancer might have affected the lungs, liver or bones.
The treatments depends of course on the stage of the cancer, the age of the patient and his/her general health. For this type of cancer chemotherapy is not very effective, therefore surgery will be the most appropriate course of action.
Using high power energy beams (X-rays) cancer cells are killed. The method is used to reduce and control the symptoms of kidney cancer.
The first treatment attempt will be radiotherapy and drug therapy if the cancer is in the early stages, but once the disease is aggressively spreading and the tumor is relatively big, surgery is the only option to stop the cancer. Surgery implies removing either the tumor from the kidney, retaining as much kidney tissue as possible, or removing the entire affected kidney, including the adrenal gland. Both methods can be done laparoscopically or through an open operation.
If both kidneys are affected by the disease and need to be removed, the patient will need kidney transplant to survive.
When surgery is not an option, cancer cells can be frozen through a needle inserted in the kidney. A special gas will freeze cancer cells, stopping them from spreading. This procedure is usually efficient when the tumor is quite small.
Using a special needle the surgeon will insert electrical current into the cancer cells, heating them up or burning them. This procedure is also efficient when the tumor is small.
This type of systemic therapy uses special substances which travel through the blood reaching and affecting cancerous cells. The body produces these substances when it has to fight infections and other diseases, but for cancer treatment they will be made in the laboratory and injected into the body in large amounts.
The price for kidney removal (nephrectomy) varies between $15,000 and $75,000 in the US, depending on the extend of the surgery, complications, doctors' and anesthetists' fees, medication, hospitalization, etc.
Medication for kidney cancer can cost up to $3,500per month in the US, depending on what drugs are prescribed. One course of treatment can reach anywhere from $60,000 to $175,000 per month.
Prices in countries such as India, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, China or Thailand can be with 60-70% lower compared to those in the US.
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