Kidney cancer, as the name suggests, is a cancer that originates and grow in the kidneys. Like other cancers, it is a life-threatening condition. Some treatments are available to treat and prevent it from worsening. How much time left (prognosis and outlook) for patients with the condition can vary and this is dependent on several factors, particularly the stage of the cancer.
What we’re talking about in this section is primary kidney cancer, cancerous growth in the kidneys that develops from the altered cells of the kidneys. There is also a condition called secondary kidney cancer, cancer in other parts of the body that spreads to the kidneys.
Kidney cancer is quite common. It is one of the 10 most common cancers in many countries, including in the U.S and U.K. Like most things in cancer, doctors and experts don’t know the exact cause of the the problem. They only know that it occurs when normal cells get altered and behave abnormally. It’s thought that DNA mutations play a role.
While the exact cause still remains puzzling, experts have confirmed that the following factors or conditions may contribute to increase the risk of developing kidney cancer:
- Older age, the risk rises with age. The condition is quite rare in people younger than age 50.
- Gender! It is relatively more common in men than in women.
- Exposed to tobacco smoke, either from active or passive smoking. Cigarette smoking is also a risk factor of many other types of cancer, see more in here!
- Being obese (very overweight, BMI greater than 30). Research suggests that many cases of kidney cancer are linked to obesity. According to one study, obesity is linked to around a quarter of kidney cancer.
- Some medications may also increase the risk such as kidney dialysis treatment, some painkiller medicines, and radiotherapy for another cancer. Each prescription medicine should outweigh the risk. If you do concern about the medication you’re taking and your risk of kidney cancer, talk to your doctor whether you need to continue or consider switching!
- Other medical conditions may also affect the risk. Research suggests that the risk is relatively higher in people with hypertension, diabetes, tuberous sclerosis, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, kidney disease (especially if you need to take a kidney dialysis), and some inherited faulty-genes conditions.
- Another cancer. For instance, the risk of kidney cancer is higher in people with thyroid cancer.
If you’re diagnosed with kidney cancer, your treatment plan is dependent on several factors. These include:
- The type and stage of the cancer.
- Possible side effects of each treatment. But in general, the treatment you need to take should outweigh the risks.
- Your own preferences and overall health.
The treatment is not only focused on the cancer. For instance, you may need to take other treatments to cope with the symptoms or side effects of cancer treatment. Take time to learn the treatment options you have, and ask to your doctor if you have any things that are unclear! Learn also the goal of each treatment you’re taking and what to expect!
There are number of treatments to choose from. These can be divided into two main groups; treatments for early and advanced kidney cancer. But in most cases, this cancer is treated with:
- Surgery, surgical procedure to remove the cancer.
- Targeted therapy to specifically target particular proteins, genes, or other tissues that contribute to cancer survival and growth – such as with mTOR inhibitors, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), and anti-angiogenesis therapy.
- Biologic therapy (immunotherapy) that usually has the main goal to help boost the natural defense system of the body to fight against the cancer.
Other treatments may include; cryotherapy (to freeze the cancer cells, typically used if you’re not able to take surgery), a procedure called arterial embolisation to block the blood supply to the cancer, and radiofrequency ablation (radio wave therapy). Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are occasionally used.
In general, ‘n’-year survival is a term used when it comes to the issue of life expectancy for people with cancer. It doesn’t tell you that you will only have n years time left. But it represents the number of patients in research who survived at least n years after the diagnosis.
For instance, 5-year survival means patients in the research were alive at least 5 years or more after diagnosis. Doctors and experts often use 5-year survival in any research study because there is a small chance for the cancer to return more than 5 years after the treatment. But they usually don’t like to say the cancer is cured, because however there is still a chance for the cancer to come back.
Prognosis means the likely outcome of your disease (cancer) and treatment. Sometime your doctor may also call this your outlook. Prognosis or outlook of kidney cancer can be attributed by several factors.
In other words, the successful rate of treatment is better when the cancer is diagnosed at early stage. Even the cancer may be curable if caught very early. Other factors that can affect the prognosis may include: