Kidney cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the United States. Each year, more than 63,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer, and 14,000 die from it. This article explores what Kidney cancer is and what a diagnosis means.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms

Kidney Cancer is most common in adults but can also occur in children. The symptoms of kidney cancer can vary depending on the stage of cancer. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. As cancer progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the back or side
  • Blood in the urine
  • Swelling in the legs or ankles
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?

Approximately half of all kidney masses are discovered by chance. They're frequently found during a routine examination or treatment for another condition. If your doctor suspects that you may have a urinary tract issue, they may suggest that you visit a urologist.

There are no standard laboratory tests for detecting kidney masses. Your physician may utilize a variety of procedures and tests to assist in figuring out more about your kidneys. Here are some of the testing and treatment options that you can anticipate:

  • Basic or comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) to assess organs' function (Complete blood count [CBC], further testing as needed). Blood tests to check for disease symptoms.
  • Urine analysis is also done in case of an infection, blood, and protein in the urine.
  • Creatinine levels or other kidney function tests determine if the kidneys function correctly.
  • Ultrasound imaging is utilized to look at the kidneys.
  • CT scans and MRIs are used to diagnose and stage kidney tumors.

Stages and Grading of Kidney Cancer?

Staging TNM System

The TNM stage classification system is one such instrument. Physicians use the results of diagnostic testing and scans to answer these questions:

A tumor (T): What is the size of the primary tumor? Where is it located?

Node (N): Have the tumor or nodes metastasized? Has it spread to your lymphatic system? Where and how many are they?

Metastasis (M): Is cancer present elsewhere in the body? If so, where and how far has it spread?

The findings are weighted to determine each person's cancer stage.

The stages of kidney cancer are represented by numbers ranging from 0 to IV (1 through 4). Kidney cancer in stage 0 is exceedingly unusual. The stage serves as a standard terminology for the disease so that physicians may collaborate to design the most acceptable therapy approach.

Combining the T, N, and M classifications creates a cancer stage.

Stage I: The tumor is less than 7 cm in size and solely affects the kidney. It has not contaminated the lymph nodes or distant organs (T1, N0, M0).

Stage II: The tumor is greater than 7 cm in diameter and solely affects the kidney. Not spreading to the lymph nodes or other distant organs (T2, N0, M0).

Stage III: Either of these problems:

  • Only the kidney can be affected by a tumor. It has spread to the local lymph nodes but not other places in the body (T1 or T2, N1, M0).
  • The tumor has invaded and overtaken significant veins or perinephric tissue, possibly spreading to regional lymph nodes. It has not spread outside the body (T3, any N, M0)

Stage IV: Either of these problems:

  • A T4 tumor and any N or M0 grade tumors on the same side of the body can spread to regions outside Gerota's fascia and into the adrenal gland. It is possible that lymph nodes were affected (T4, any N, M0).
  • The tumor has been affected by any other organ, such as the lungs, bones, or brain (T, N, M1).

Recurrent: Recurrence of cancer is a condition in which the malignancy has come back after treatment. It can manifest itself in various bodily places, such as the kidney region. If the disease returns, another round of examinations will determine how far it has spread. These exams and scans are usually comparable to those done at diagnosis.

Treatment for Kidney Cancer

There are many different treatments for kidney cancer. The type of treatment you receive depends on the stage of your cancer and other factors. Some common treatments include:

Surgery: is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove the entire tumor. In some cases, surgeons may also remove the surrounding lymph nodes and some of the healthy tissue around the kidney.

Chemotherapy: is a type of medication that destroys cancer cells. It is often used to treat kidney cancer that has spread to other body parts.

Radiation therapy: uses high-energy beams to eliminate cancer cells. It is often used to treat kidney cancer that has spread to other body parts.

Targeted therapy: is a medication targeting specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that helps cancer cells grow. It is often used to treat kidney cancer that has spread to other body parts.

Immunotherapy: is a treatment that uses the immune system to fight cancer cells. It is often used to treat kidney cancer that has spread to other body parts.

Clinical trials: are research studies that test new ways to prevent, find, or treat disease. They may also try new ways to improve the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Clinical trials are an essential option for people with all types of cancer. Kidney cancer clinical trials are being done to find new and better treatments.

You and your urologist will work together to choose the best treatment plan for you.

Coping with a Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

When you receive a diagnosis of kidney cancer, it can be overwhelming. You may feel scared, anxious, or overwhelmed. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people can help you through this tough time. 

Here are some tips for how to cope with a kidney cancer diagnosis:

Talk to your friends and family. They may not know how to best support you, but they want to help.

Join a support group. Many online groups or local support groups are available for people with kidney cancer. This can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you're going through. 

Seek professional help. If you're feeling overwhelmed or depressed, it may be helpful to see a counselor or therapist who can help you work through these feelings.

Stay positive. It can be challenging, but try to focus on the good things in your life and stay hopeful for the future.

Take things one day at a time. It can be overwhelming to think about everything you have to do, but try to focus on taking things one day at a time.

Make healthy choices. Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep can help you physically and emotionally.

Find an activity that relaxes you. This could be reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature. Doing something that you enjoy can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

Be prepared for appointments. It can be helpful to write down questions ahead of time so that you don't forget anything during your appointment. You may also want to bring someone with you to appointments so that they can take notes or ask questions for you.

Receiving a diagnosis of kidney cancer can be a difficult and scary time. But there are many people and resources available to help you through it. With the proper support, you can get through this tough time.

Mississippi Urology Clinic Can Help

Mississippi Urology Clinic provides diagnosis and treatment when facing Kidney Cancer; please contact us for an appointment with one of our professional Urologists.