kidney cancer: Prevent, Symptoms, Treatments

kidney cancer: Prevent, Symptoms, Treatments

What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in kidney cells. The word "malignant" means that the tumor can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

The kidney is part of the urinary tract. There are 2 kidneys, 1 on each side of the spine, deep in the upper abdomen.

An adrenal gland is located above each kidney. It is the kidneys that make the urine by filtering the water and the waste contained in the blood. Inside each kidney, there is a network of millions of small tubes called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a tubule and a corpuscle. Tubules are tiny tubes that collect waste and chemicals. The corpuscles contain a cluster of very small blood vessels that filter the blood.

Kidney cells sometimes undergo changes that make their growth pattern or behavior abnormal. These changes can lead to benign conditions, such as cysts. They can also lead to the formation of benign tumors, including renal adenoma. Benign diseases and tumors are not cancerous. But in some cases, changes in kidney cells can cause cancer.

Kidney cancer occurs most often in the cells lining the tubules. This type of cancer is called renal cell carcinoma. There are several different types of renal cell carcinoma.

Rare types of kidney cancer can also occur. Examples include renal sarcoma and primary renal lymphoma.

kidney cancer

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Types of Kidney Cancers


It is the most common form of kidney cancer in adults (80% of kidney cancers). This type of kidney cancer results in the development of cancer cells in the renal tubules (small channels inside the nephrons that filter the blood and make the urine).

Transitional cell carcinoma

It accounts for about 8% of kidney cancer cases. It is a development of cancer cells in the pelvis (central part of the kidney, where the urine is collected before its arrival in the ureter, then in the bladder).

Wilms's tumor

This tumor is the form of kidney cancer particularly affecting young individuals and children.

kidney cancer

Causes of kidney cancer

The exact cause of kidney cancer is still unknown. However, risk factors could be identified. Among these:


tobacco consumption

arterial hypertension

a family history of kidney cancer

genetic factors, such as Von Hippel-Lindau disease for example

the treatment of renal impairment by dialysis.

Who is affected by kidney cancer?

The people most affected by kidney cancer are adults between the ages of 60 and 70 years old.

Individuals under 50 are generally not affected by this carcinogenic risk. Nevertheless, the risk cannot be excluded in its entirety.

How to prevent kidney cancer?

The prevention of kidney cancer is essentially a healthy lifestyle: a healthy diet to limit the risk of overweight and obesity, exclude tobacco consumption, and maintenance of blood pressure.

Please if you have any questions about kidney cancer, you can ask us by commenting below this text, we'll answer you as soon as possible.

Symptoms of kidney cancer

It is possible that kidney cancer causes no signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease as the kidneys are made of few nerves, so that the tumor can develop without causing pain or discomfort. Also, as the kidneys are buried deep in the body, this means that a tumor has space to become very large before affecting other organs. The person often begins to experience symptoms once the tumor has developed in nearby tissues and organs.

Up to one-third of people who have a kidney tumor are diagnosed with no signs or symptoms. In these cases, the tumor is detected during an ultrasound or X-ray performed for another reason. Since kidney tumors do not cause symptoms before being fat, most people with kidney cancer have advanced disease when diagnosed. Other medical conditions can cause the same symptoms as kidney cancer. Consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms:

blood in the urine (hematuria);

pain in the back and side of the abdomen (flank);

mass that can be felt in the abdomen;

swelling (edema) of the legs and ankles;

large swollen vein (varicocele) that may suddenly appear in the scrotum of an elderly man if a kidney tumor has changed the flow of blood in the scrotum;

paraneoplastic syndrome.

The signs and symptoms of paraneoplastic syndrome are as follows:

increased blood pressure (hypertension);

tiredness, pallor and general feeling of discomfort or illness, called malaise, caused by a decrease in the number of red blood cells (anemia);

night sweats;


loss of appetite;


kidney cancer

Treatments of Kidney Cancer

If you have kidney cancer, your healthcare team will develop a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your needs and could include the combination of different treatments. When your healthcare team decides what treatments to offer you for kidney cancer, it takes the following into consideration:

stage of kidney cancer

only one functional kidney or both

presence of cancer in one or both kidneys

the type of kidney cancer your overall health

We can offer you the following treatments for kidney cancer.


Surgery is the main treatment for kidney cancer. It is used to remove the kidney in part or in whole. This operation is called nephrectomy. The type of nephrectomy you will have depends on the size of the tumor and the stage of the cancer. Doctors do partial nephrectomy when possible to leave part of the kidney in place, for example. In some cases, they have to do a radical nephrectomy, which is to remove the whole kidney, to try to remove the kidney tumor completely.

In some cases, the doctor also removes the lymph nodes that surround the kidney. Surgery to remove lymph nodes is called ganglion dissection, or lymphadenectomy.

Surgery can also be used to relieve pain or to reduce the symptoms of advanced kidney cancer. It is a palliative surgery.

Targeted treatment

In targeted therapy, drugs are used to target specific molecules, such as proteins, on the surface or inside cancer cells. By targeting these molecules, drugs stop the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells. The type of targeted treatment you use depends on the type of kidney cancer, the level of risk, and any targeted medication you have been given.

Targeted treatment is used to treat kidney cancer that cannot be completely removed by surgery because it is too advanced. This includes cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body and kidney cancer that recurs, or reoccurs, after being treated.

Arterial embolization

The kidney tumor needs blood to grow. Arterial embolization is an intervention that blocks the blood supply to the tumor. It can be used before surgery to reduce bleeding if you remove a large kidney tumor. Arterial embolization can also be used to relieve pain when a person with advanced kidney cancer cannot get surgery.


Ablation is an intervention that destroys kidney cancer cells while preserving the largest possible amount of nearby tissue. It is not often used to treat kidney cancer, but it can be offered to people who cannot get surgery or need to keep as much of their kidney as possible.

There are 2 types of ablation for kidney cancer. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat.


In external radiotherapy, a device is used outside the body to direct radiation to the tumor and surrounding tissue. It is not usually given to the kidney tumor itself, but rather to the areas where the cancer has spread, especially to the bones and brain.

Radiation therapy is also used to relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced kidney cancer.


Immunotherapy is a form of biological therapy that uses the immune system to help destroy cancer cells. Cancer, and some of its treatments, can weaken the immune system. Sometimes the immune system does not recognize that the cancer cells are different, or foreign, so it does not try to destroy them. Immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to help recognize and fight cancer cells.

There are two types of immunotherapeutic drugs in Canada, that is, immune-checkpoint inhibitors and cytokines. Cytokines are rarely used in Canada since targeted treatments are more effective at treating kidney cancer. It can be used in specialized treatment centers where immunotherapy has been administered for a long time.


Post-treatment follow-up is an important component of caring for people with cancer. You will need to have regular follow-up visits, especially during the first 3 years after treatment. These visits allow the care team to monitor your progress and find out how you are recovering from the treatment.

Clinical tests

A few clinical trials of kidney cancer are underway in Canada and accept participants. Clinical trials aim to find new, better methods for cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Learn more about clinical trials.

kidney cancer

Please if you have any questions about kidney cancer, you can ask us by commenting below this text, we'll answer you as soon as possible.

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