Kidney Cancer: Urinary Tract Disorders


Cancer is when cells in the body change and grow out of control. To help you understand what happens when you have cancer, let’s look at how your body works normally. Your body is made up of tiny building blocks called cells. Normal cells grow when your body needs them, and die when your body does not need them any longer.Here are the things to know about the Kidney Cancer Urinary Tract Disorders

When kidney cancer forms

A kidney is made up of many layers of cells. Kidney cancer can affect any one or all of these layers. Cancer can stop the kidneys from working normally. Kidney cancer may spread to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads, it’s called metastasis. The more cancer spreads, the harder it is to treat.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Symptoms may not occur until cancer has spread (metastasized) or become very large. Blood in the urine is the most common first symptom, but the amount of blood may be so small that it can be detected only under a microscope. On the other hand, the urine may be visibly red. The next most common symptoms are a pain in the area between the ribs and hip (the flank), fever, and weight loss. Infrequently, kidney cancer is first detected when a doctor feels an enlargement or lump in the abdomen. Other nonspecific symptoms of kidney cancer include fatigue, weight loss, and early satiety (feelings of fullness after a meal).

The red blood cell count may become abnormally high because high levels of the hormone erythropoietin stimulate the bone marrow to increase the production of red blood cells. Symptoms of a high red blood cell count may be absent or may include headache, fatigue, dizziness, and vision disturbances. Conversely, kidney cancer may lead to a drop in the red blood cell count because of slow bleeding into the urine. Anemia may cause easy fatigability or dizziness. Some people develop high levels of calcium in the blood, which may cause weakness, fatigue, slowed reaction times, and constipation. Blood pressure may increase, but high blood pressure may not cause symptoms.

Diagnosis of Kidney Cancer

  • Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging
  • Sometimes surgery

Most kidney cancers are discovered by chance when an imaging test such as computed tomography (CT) is done to evaluate another problem, such as high blood pressure. If doctors suspect kidney cancer based on a person’s symptoms, they use CT or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Ultrasonography or intravenous urography may also be used initially, but doctors must use CT or MRI to verify the diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, other imaging tests (for example, chest x-ray, bone scan, or CT of the head, chest, or both), as well as blood tests, may be done to determine whether and where cancer has spread. However, sometimes cancer that has recently spread cannot be detected. Occasionally, surgery is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Rarely, do doctors recommend a biopsy of either the kidney mass or other areas of the body concerning for spread to confirm the diagnosis.

The prognosis for Kidney Cancer

Many factors affect prognosis, but the 5-year survival rate for people with small cancers confined to the kidney is greater than 90%. Cancer that has spread has a much worse prognosis. In these people, the goal is often to focus on controlling the disease spread, pain relief, and other means to improve.

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