Can Colon Cancer Affect Kidneys?

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If you have colon cancer at early stages, there may be almost no effect that you feel. In fact, it often doesn’t cause any early symptoms (see more in here). However at advanced stages, it can spread and affect other parts of the body. Can it also affect kidneys?

Kidneys – what actually are they?

They are two organs that have crucial function to filter blood. They are about the shape of bean, the same size as a fist, and located near the middle of your back (on either side of your spine) – see the picture below!

kidneys_in_the urinary_system

They play a key role to help your blood clean from unwanted things. They filter excess fluid and even wastes in the bloodstream, which then will be excreted during urination (through your urine when you pee).

Blood goes into the kidney through arteries called renal arteries. To remove waste materials and excess fluid, your kidney has special units called nephrons. Each unit of nephrons has glomerulus (a kind of filter).

Glomerulus contains a network of capillaries (very small blood vessels). While it has main function to filter waste products, it also can help filter essential substances (such as potassium and phosphorus that your body needs).

The essential substances will pass through very small tubules, and then be absorbed back into the bloodstream. On the other hand, the waste products go into ureters, the tubes that line from kidneys to bladder.

The cleaned blood is carried by large blood vessels called renal veins. These veins carry the blood away from each kidney,

The kidneys are one of important organs in your urinary system. It works together with – ureters, bladder, prostate (only in male urinary system), and urethra – to filter waste products from the blood and make urine.

Kidneys also have function to make some hormones, these include:

  1. Calcitriol (a kind of vitamin D), it is used to help guts absorb your dietary calcium.
  2. Renin, an essential hormone to help regulate your blood pressure levels.
  3. And EPO or erythropoietin, a hormone to stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells when the body needs.

Colon cancer can affect kidneys for some reasons

At advanced stages, cells of cancer can break away from their primary cancer site and spread to elsewhere in the body through bloodstream and lymph systems. Theoretically, they can spread anywhere. But in most cases of many cancers, they are likely to spread most often to one or two places.

Most of cancers tend to spread to one or two the following places: brain, lungs, skin, lymph nodes, liver, or bone. For instances, prostate cancer tends to spread to the bone – and for lung cancer, it is likely to spread to the brain.

Colon cancer can spread to the kidneys, but …

The new cancerous growth that is build up by cancer cells coming from the primary cancerous tumor is called secondary cancer.

For advanced stages of colon cancer (primary cancer), it is more likely to spread to liver and lung, causing secondary liver cancer or/and secondary lung cancer. Liver is the most common place where it spreads, and lungs are the second common place.

Colon cancer can spread into other parts of the body close to the affected colon such as kidney, causing secondary kidney cancer – though it is not common (quite rare)! For such case, the affected part of kidney by cancer can interfere with some kidney functions.

The chance for cancer to spread into kidney is greater if it occur in the upper part of colon (see the picture in the next page) and if it grows aggressively! In rare cases, there is also a chance for colon cancer to spread into other organs in pelvic area such as bladder and prostate!


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