Is Kidney Cancer Linked to Diabetes?

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Kidney cancer and diabetes can be serious or even life-threatening. Is there a link between two conditions? Some studies suggest that diabetes may have contribution to increase the risk of certain cancers. Although this issue is not fully known yet, researchers believe that diabetes may cause the cancer in several different ways.

What is kidney cancer?

The kidneys are two ‘bean-shaped’ important organs for your urinary system. They are located just underneath your rib-cage, on either side of the body. There are a number of functions of the kidneys. And one of the main ones is to filter out wastes and unnecessary things from the blood, in addition to making urine.

Your body is made up of millions or even billions of cells. These normal cells grow and thrive in an orderly way in which new cells are usually formed only when the body needs them. In cancer, this orderly process goes abnormally – cancer cells grow and thrive out of control.

The answer of what trigger this abnormal growth is not known. Experts only know that certain conditions /factors can increase the risk of the condition developing such as obesity, older age, and smoking.

image_illustration430The exact cause of kidney cancer is also not known, but some risk factors have been scientifically confirmed. These include older age (it is more commonly found in people over 50 years) and gender (men are affected more often). Other risk factors are as follows:

  1. Having a close family member with kidney cancer. Close family members include father, mother, sisters, brothers, or children.
  2. Inherited genetic conditions, such as tuberous sclerosis, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, and Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.
  3. Particular painkillers. For instance, ibuprofen (a kind of NSAIDs) may slightly raise the risk, although low doses or occasional use is unlikely to be dangerous.
  4. Other kidney conditions, especially if you need to use kidney dialysis (a common treatment for kidney failure).
  5. Chronic high blood pressure. In fact it is the top leading cause of some kidney diseases. Interestingly, it is also a common consequence of kidney disease.

Kidney cancer can develop slowly or aggressively. This is usually dependent on several factors. One of them is the type of cancer. There are a number of different types of kidney cancer, see more in here!

There are usually no early signs and symptoms. Typically, the symptom is noticeable when the cancer gets to its mid-to advanced-stage. In most patients, blood in the urine is the most common symptom which is also the most common reason to first see the doctor. Other symptoms may include persistent pain in the flank area and swelling /lump on either side of the body.

Typically, cancer grows in one kidney. But over time, advanced metastatic kidney cancer may also affect the other one.

The treatment plan is usually dependent on how large the cancer has grown and how far it has spread. Overall, the earlier stage of the disease, the easier it is to treat. Even if it’s caught early, it may be curable (a cancer that doesn’t come back more than 5 years after treatment may be cured).

Surgery is often used for the first course of action, especially for early stages of kidney cancer. Chemotherapy is not commonly used, but other non-surgical treatments such as targeted therapies and radiotherapies can be used in more advanced stages of the cancer (when the cancer cells have spread further).

What happen in diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which the body’s natural mechanism in controlling blood sugar (glucose) goes awry, making it easier for blood sugar level to fluctuate abnormally. Diabetics (people with diabetes) can easily have high blood sugar level, higher than normal.

In general, diabetes is divided into two main types; type-1 and type-2 diabetes. Type-2 is the most common form. It is far more common than type-1. There is also a condition called gestational diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy, as the name suggests.

Diabetes occurs when there is a problem affecting the performance of insulin, essential hormone produced by pancreas that plays a key role to control the amount of glucose in the blood.

When food is digested and goes into the circulation (bloodstream), the pancreas release more insulin to move glucose out of the circulation and into cells which then eventually will be broken down to make energy.

If you have diabetes, you have difficulty to break down sugar (glucose) for energy. The glucose tends to accumulate in the circulation and doesn’t enter into cells of the body as well as it should. This occurs because the insulin doesn’t work effectively or there is not enough insulin released by pancreas to move the glucose!

In type-1, cells of the pancreas is mistakenly destroyed and attacked by the body immune system. As a result, the pancreas doesn’t work properly and the production of insulin is affected. Type-1 is also often called as ‘autoimmune disorder’. In some cases, the pancreas of people with type-1 cannot produce insulin at all.

And for type-2, it is a condition in which the cells of the body don’t respond insulin effectively or if there is not enough insulin produced by pancreas. This is also called ‘insulin resistance’. Type-2 has nothing to do with the abnormality of the body immune system. It is more likely to be associated with lifestyle factors (such as poor diet, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle).

Is kidney cancer linked to diabetes?

As diseases, cancer and diabetes are different. They seem a world away from each other. But some studies suggest that diabetes may be associated with the increased risk of certain cancers. Is it also linked to kidney cancer?


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