Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys. Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They're located behind your abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of your spine.
In adults, renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer — about 90 percent of cancerous tumours. Other less common types of kidney cancer can occur. Young children are more prone to develop a sort of kidney cancer called Wilms' tumour.
The incidence of kidney cancer seems to be increasing. One reason for this may be the fact that imaging techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) scans are being used more often. These tests may prompt the accidental discovery of more kidney cancers. In many cases, kidney cancer is found at an early stage, when the tumours are small and confined to the kidney, making them easier to treat.
Most often, these symptoms do not mean cancer. An infection, a cyst, or another problem also can cause similar symptoms. A person with any of these symptoms should see a doctor so that the problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
To plan the best treatment, the specialist needs to know the stage (extent) of the disease. The stage is based on the size of a tumour, whether cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body.
Staging may involve imaging tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or even an MRI.
It is an early stage of kidney cancer. A tumour measures up to 2.75 inches (7 cms). It is no bigger than a tennis ball. The cancer cells are found only in the kidney.
It is also an early stage of kidney cancer, but a tumour measures more than 2.75 inches. The cancer cells are found only in the kidney.
Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back (recurred) after treatment. It may come back in the kidney or in another part of the body.
Many people with kidney cancer need to take an active part in settling on choices about their medical care. They want to learn all they can about their disease and their treatment choices. Nonetheless, shock and stress after the diagnosis can make it difficult to consider everything they want to ask the specialist. It often helps to make a list of questions before an appointment. To help recall what the doctor says, people may take notes or ask whether they may use a tape recorder. Some also want to have a family member or friend with them when they talk to the doctor to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just to listen.
The doctor may refer the patient to a specialist, or the patient may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat kidney cancer include doctors who specialize in diseases of the urinary system (urologists) and doctors who specialize in cancer (medical oncologists and radiation oncologists).
Treatment depends essentially on the stage of disease and the patient's general well being and age. The kidney cancer treatment specialist can describe treatment choices and examine the expected outcomes. The kidney cancer treatment specialist and patient can cooperate to build up a treatment plan that fits the patient's needs.