Kidney cancer recurrence may occur after its initial treatment. For cancer survivors, this issue can be quite frightening. When the recurrence happens can vary – it may occur in years, months, or even weeks. For example, it may returns after 3 years. Some treatments are available to fight against the cancer recurrence. Although it can be harder to cope, there is always a hope to treat it successfully.
The return of cancer is a common concern in cancer survivors, but it’s not easy to not worry about it. The good news, some people who have had kidney cancer have successfully learned to live with this uncertainty. Even the prognosis and life expectancy of this cancer are quite awesome (read more in here).
It’s difficult to remove all the cancer cells – particularly true if the cancer has become advanced. In some cases, the small areas of cancer cells may persist and remain after treatment. Over time, these abnormal cells may thrive and grow which then eventually will become large enough to cause symptoms.
Where kidney carcinoma returns is dependent on several factors. But in general, it could be:
- A condition called local recurrence, when the cancer recurs in the same kidney or very close by.
- Regional recurrence, when it recurs in the nearby areas of where the first primary cancer was located. For example, this recurrence may happen in the tissue and lymph node located in the vicinity of the first original cancer.
- Distant recurrence, when it recurs in a distant part of the body. This usually occurs if the first kidney cancer had become advanced. For example, cancer cells from the kidney that have spread to the bones may cause a cancer recurrence in the bone after treatment – but it’s still called kidney cancer, not bone cancer. Remember that cancer recurrence is the same cancer returning after some period of time.
There are a number of different types of kidney carcinoma. If the cancer is caught after treatment, some tests are usually used to determine whether it is the same type of the first cancer or a new type.
It’s difficult to predict how likely the cancer is to come back. But experts know that it is more difficult to treat and more likely to recur if it’s:
- Aggressive (fast growing). See also how likely kidney carcinoma to become an aggressive malignancy in this section!
- Has become advanced! The more widespread (advanced) the cancer, more difficult to treat and more likely to come back after treatment.
5 years after diagnosis and following the treatment is crucial time to predict whether or not the cancer will come back. Although it’s still difficult to predict what will happen – but in general, the recurrence is likely to occur within this range.
The doctors usually don’t say ‘cured’ after treatment, because there is a chance for the cancer to return. There is also no any test that can entirely check all the remaining cancer cells in the body. Therefore, we cannot exactly figure out whether all of them have been successfully removed after treatment.
Instead of using the word ‘cured’, the doctor tends to say that the cancer is going into the stage called ‘remission’. Cancer remission means that the symptoms go away for a while – with tests, there is also no any sign of the cancer.
If the cancer does come back, it’s likely to occur within 5 years after treatment. This means, it’s quite possible for renal cancer to recur after 3 years.
Cancer remission doesn’t mean a cure. But if it lasts more than 5 years, it may lead to a cure – because the cancer recurrence is quite rare to be found in that period of time!
It’s not possible to guarantee that you can definitely prevent the recurrence once you have completed the cancer treatment. Many cancer survivors blame themselves for not-eating right or missing their doctor visit. But even though you do everything almost perfectly, there is still a chance for the cancer to recur.
- It’s important for cancer survivors to eat right. Appropriate healthy diet may vary from patient to patient (talk to your dietitian for more advice). In general, this includes; diet high in fiber, low in fat, and high in antioxidants. You may also be asked to restrict alcohol (if you drink, do it only in moderation)!
- Regular exercise. It’s not clear yet whether physical activity has an effect to prevent the cancer from coming back. But it can help boost self-esteem, improve mood, reduce depression, improve the quality of sleep, and ease symptoms of fatigue. It is also good for stress reliever! These benefits are helpful for anyone, including for cancer survivors.
- Weight control. Some studies suggest that obesity might contribute to increase the risk of the cancer recurrence. Although this issue may be still debatable, but having healthy weight is always worth a try and good for your overall health. Both diet and exercise can play a key role to help control your weight and keep it off.
- Avoid smoking, including tobacco smoke from someone else (secondhand smoke)!
- If necessary, consider taking regular screening. Ask your doctor whether this option is required!
It’s not easy to not worry about cancer recurrence. If you do concern about this issue, talk to your doctor /cancer care team for more guidance.
There is no any information that can tell you what will happen exactly. The prognosis and outlook of the cancer recurrence can vary, because each case is unique. However in general, the prognosis is dependent on several factors – particularly such as: