Kidney cancer

What is kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer is when a tumor forms in the kidneys:
• Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer. It forms in the very small tubes in the linings of the kidneys which filter blood. If detected and treated early, chances for a full recovery and high
• Renal pelvis carcinoma develops in the center of the kidney where the urine collects. It is a more rare type of kidney cancer
Wilms tumor is a form of kidney cancer usually develops in children under the age of 5

What causes kidney cancer?
It is unknown what exactly causes kidney cancer but some factors are thought to increase the risk of developing it, such as:
• Smoking
• Obesity
• Exposure to certain industrial chemicals such as those used in the steel, coal or engineering industries
•  People who have advanced kidney disease, especially those who need to have dialysis
• Genetic predisposition - there are some rare conditions where an inherited faulty gene increases the risk of developing kidney cancer
• Family history - most kidney cancers aren’t inherited but if two or more members of the same family develop kidney cancer, then other members of the family might have a higher than average risk of getting kidney cancer

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get kidney cancer but can increase their chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
The most common symptoms of kidney cancer are:
• Blood in the urine (hematuria)
• Flank pain (feeling pain on the sides of the body in between the ribs and the pelvis)
• Palpable mass in the flank or abdomen
• Unexplained weight loss
• Fever
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• High levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia)
• Night sweats
 
How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, physicians use a variety of tests to diagnose and accurately stage kidney cancer including:
• Complete blood count (CBC) test
• Kidney function test
• Calcium level test to detect hypercalcemia
• Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) - a special x-ray examination of the kidneys, bladder, and ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder)
• Ultrasound to get images of the kidneys and surrounding tissue
• Biopsy of kidney tissue
• CT scan
• Cytoscopy to test for the presence of blood in the urine

How is kidney cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

At KHCC, there are several treatment options for people with kidney cancer:
• Surgery
• Targeted therapy – a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances, such as monoclonal antibodies, to identify and attack specific cancer cells
• Biological therapy – also known as immunotherapy, this is treatment that boosts or restores the ability of the immune system to fight cancer by using antibodies, vaccines and growth factors

A team of KHCC specialists will decide the best course of treatment for a kidney cancer patient depending on the stage of the disease.
 
For patients with early-stage kidney cancer, the chances of recovery are usually quite high. The treatment approach for patients with early-stage kidney cancer is curative, to eradicate the tumor and keep it from coming back.

Treatment for patients with advanced-stage kidney cancer is not usually as effective as early-stage kidney cancer treatment. Some patients with metastatic disease (kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) respond to immunotherapy, but many advanced-stage patients can be offered only palliative therapy to control the disease and improve their quality of life. Chemotherapy is not usually effective but can be tried in selected patients.

Physicians
At KHCC, kidney cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating genitourinary cancers.

Supportive Care
The genitourinary multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that bladder cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: