Renal cancer is a malignant growth found in the kidneys. Renal cells and are the cells in the kidneys that allow for the function of accumulating and transporting waste material down the urinary tract as urine, towards the bladders. Renal cell carcinoma accounts for over 80% of renal cancers and is known to develop in the tubes of the kidneys which serve as a recycling system for cleaning waste materials from the blood, by reproducing red blood cells and regulating blood pressure. Renal cell carcinoma is set off by an abnormality in the cell’s natural function to die off by causing these cells to multiply uncontrollably and aggregate into a tumor. These tumors can then become malignant and metastasize into neighboring organs such as the liver, pancreas and colon.
Even though the exact cause for triggering this deviation in cell function is still yet to be known, some of the investigated factors that play a roll in this disease are: cigarette smoking, obesity, dialysis (long-term), high blood pressure, exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos and cadmium and hereditary factors.
Early stages of renal cell carcinoma may be difficult to notice and can start to become noticeable only after it has started effecting surrounding tissues of the body. Since the kidneys are connected to the urinary system of the body, a common symptom, is seeing blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, followed by pain, weight loss and constant fever and even anemia (low red blood cell count). In renal cell cancer, once it spreads to surrounding organs, can cause even further complications such as neuropathy, amyloidosis, liver disorders and high blood pressure.
Early detection and treatment are the key factors for treating renal cancer. Your doctor may recommend doing an evaluation prior to determining the exact treatment option. A computerized-tomography imaging of the kidneys, as well ultrasound or a CT are the imaging exams that will help in differentiate between tumors and hyperdense cysts, since not all tumors are cancerous. The prognosis may vary according to the size and location of tumor and metastasis of the tumor to other organs such as the adrenal glands, lymphnodes and vena cava.
The mainstream line of treatment for renal cancer is surgical removal of the tumor. Today, novel technologies are being further explored such as radiofrequency ablation or nephron-sparing surgery, both, minimally invasive procedures used to erode the tumor without affecting the surrounding kidney tissues. Other means of treatment include: radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or adoptive immunotherapy. Renal cancer does propose a challenge for medical science today and means for defining a better differential diagnosis and treatment without an invasive approach, poses to be the biggest challenge in renal medicine.