Kidney Cancer

Know More About Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs in the human body that are responsible for the filtration of blood. These are located behind the abdominal organs with one kidney on each side of the spine. The nephrotic system inside the kidneys ensures that the useful nutrients and salts are retained in the body while the toxins are released out of the body. The waste products are produced in the form of urine or stools.

Kidney cancer occurs when any of the cells forming the kidneys start growing uncontrollably and soon form a mass called a tumor. Cancer in any part of the body occurs when changes occur in the functioning of the cells lining or forming the kidneys. Cancer can be benign or malignant. Benign cancer cells function or stick to one part of the body while the malignant cells hold the ability to move to other parts of the body as well. This movement is termed metastasis. Kidney cancer usually occurs in people aged 40 and above.

Causes of kidney cancer

  • The exact cause of kidney cancer is not known by medical specialists. Usually, the cell’s DNA is responsible for what happens inside the cell. The modifications or mutations in the DNA interfere with the cell’s normal functioning and lead to the division of the cells.
  • The additional factors that might contribute to the malfunctioning of kidney cells are old age and poor lifestyle habits like smoking. It is most commonly observed in the age group 65 and 74.
  • People who deal with obesity and high blood pressure issues are more likely to develop the risk of kidney cancer.
  • For those receiving dialysis from a long time, the chances of getting kidney cancer are higher. Also, if the patient has been receiving radiation treatments to treat cancer-related to reproductive organs or any nearby areas, the situation of developing kidney cancer may arise.
  • If there is a family history of kidney cancer, you may develop it. People with lymphoma are also known to be at risk of dealing with kidney cancer.
  • Certain genetic conditions like Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, Von Hippel-Landau syndrome, familial renal cancer, or tuberous sclerosis complex can cause kidney cancer.

Types of Kidney Cancer

The various types of kidney cancer are stated below:

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Being the most common form of kidney cancer, it begins in the tubules connected to the kidney and the rest of the body. These tubules are responsible for carrying the useful nutrients and fluid back to the body.  It occurs in the form of a single tumor and develops from the cells lining the tubules.


Transitional Cell Cancer

This type of cancer occurs in the region renal pelvis. It is the area where the ureter connects with the kidney. Occurring in ureters or bladders, this type of cancer accounts for 6% to 7% of total kidney cancers.


Wilms Tumor

This type of kidney cancer is usually observed in children and young adults. It is generally identified at the time of birth and is mostly curable. The patient might be experiencing swelling or the formation of a lump in the related area.


Renal Sarcoma

Renal sarcoma begins in the connective tissue present in the kidneys. Renal sarcoma is not common and accounts for 1% of kidney cancers. If not treated on time, it can spread to other parts of the body as well.


Stages of Kidney Cancer

The method of treatment depends on the level of immunity and the overall health of the individual. Further, the doctor will conduct diagnosis techniques to find out the complexity of the disease. Based on that, the stages are decided followed by a prognosis.
The stages of kidney cancer are as follows:

Stage 1
At this stage, the tumor measures 7cm or small and is restricted to the kidney itself.

Stage 2
At stage 2, the tumor measures more than 7cm and is still in the kidney. No movement is observed in the lymph nodes.

Stage 3
During stage 3, cancer spreads to surrounding major blood vessels. It includes the tissue surrounding the kidneys, renal vein, or inferior vena cava. The nearby and related lymph nodes may also be affected.

Stage 4
This is the last stage of kidney cancer where the cancer cells reach other parts of the body and are also likely to affect the adrenal gland located on top of the kidney. The distant lymph nodes may get affected at this stage.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The patient experiences pain on either side of the lower back. Tiredness, and a constant sense of being sick and uncomfortable.
  • Blood may appear in the urine, also called hematuria. Formation of mass in the kidney area may also be observed.
  • Other symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, high blood pressure, high levels of calcium, and bone pain.
  • Anemia and swelling in the legs are also possible. If cancer cells have already spread to other areas, there could be coughing up blood and shortness of breath.


There are several methods of diagnosing cancer that can help in determining further treatment.

Physical examination

Generally, the first approach is a physical examination to look and feel for visible symptoms. The specialist may look for any lumps or swelling near the area related to the kidney. Medical history is taken to know of any past illness and prepare the prognosis.

Urine and blood analysis

The urine sample is collected to detect the presence of blood that might be invisible to the naked eye. Also, any kind of abnormality can also be detected through such tests.
The blood samples help in determining the levels of specific proteins or substances that might be indicative of kidney cancer. The levels of red blood cells, creatinine, and other electrolytes are considered.

Renal Mass Biopsy

This procedure involves extracting a few cells or tissues from the tumor formed inside the kidneys. The sample is taken with the help of a thin needle and is then analyzed by the pathologists under a microscope. A biopsy helps determine the grade of the tumor- whether is fast growing or slow growing.
Apart from this, a test called a renal arteriogram is performed to evaluate the levels of blood supply to the tumor.

Imaging Techniques

The imaging tests include processes like MRI, CT Scan, intravenous pyelogram, and ultrasound. Magnetic resonance imaging involves the use of radio waves generated from computers and magnetic fields to produce detailed images from the inside.

Ultrasound involves the use of high sound waves that are passed through the human body. It helps in detecting tumors as they have a different intensity than normal healthy body cells. Intravenous pyelogram refers to using X-Rays after the technician injects a dye that travels down the urinary tract.


Based on how much the disease has advanced, the treatments for kidney cancer are determined.


Surgery is the primary treatment for kidney cancer to remove the affected area and try to retain normal functioning as much as possible. The surgery can be done in many ways:
The partial nephrectomy is performed to remove the presence of cancer in the kidney along with the removal of some healthy cells. This process is done in patients whose tumor measures less than 4cm or in those where radical nephrectomy becomes too complicated to be performed and has the chance of affecting another kidney.

Simple nephrectomy involves the removal of the kidney to ensure that cancer does not spread to other areas.

Radical nephrectomy removes the kidney, adrenal gland, surrounding tissues, and sometimes, lymph nodes as well. Modern treatments use the laparoscope to perform the treatment using a small incision.

Radiofrequency Ablation

During this process, a thin needle is inserted into the kidney tumor with help of some imaging equipment for correct placement. An electric current is then run to destroy the tumor cells through the heat and burn process.


It involves using extremely cold temperatures to treat the cancer cells. The cold gas present in the needle is used to freeze the cells and let them die.


Usually, the cells in the body can identify the external agents and deal with them. However, in the cases of cancer, the tumor cells might block the functioning of normal body cells and hence, weaken the system. So, the doctors treat the body with some proteins that restore the normal functioning of the cell.

Targeted Therapy

The aim of targeted therapy is to block the abnormalities present in the cancer cells. This helps in inhibiting the functioning of cancer cells. Testing can be recommended by the specialists to see which drugs are most effective in blocking the channels.

Clinical Trials

If none of the treatments are working on the patients, the condition is subjected to clinical trials. The professionals here try to find out possible innovative solutions. The risks and benefits of newly devised treatments are analyzed and evaluated.


What could be the possible side effects of such treatments?

  • Generally, the techniques like cryoablation might cause infection through any wounds or openings, or even bleeding. Often, nerve damage can lead to numbness or weakness in the body.
  • The patient can feel nauseous and the treatment may cause fluid formation in adjacent organs like the lungs.
  • Radiofrequency ablation can lead to some pain and discomfort and the individual can also feel unwell for some time.
  • Treatments like immunotherapy and targeted drug therapy can lead to issues with wound healing, change in hair color, skin issues, mouth soreness, fatigue, and blood pressure.

Why should you trust Ayurveda?

Being one of the oldest systems of medicine, it incorporates a lot of hypotheses and concepts that have been received in the modern age. It holds the ability to reduce the symptoms and issues that a particular disease is causing. The professionals ensure that the use of medicinal herbs and therapies is done in a proper manner.

This traditional system of medicine believes that any kind of disease or disorder is developed in the body when there is an imbalance or stress in the consciousness of a person. Ayurvedic medicines and formulations work directly on the root cause of the health problem. It helps to regain a balance between the mind and body and energizes the soul.

The field of Ayurveda understands the cellular mechanisms and world gradually in a slow-healing manner. The Ayurvedic approaches are unique and different from the modern forms of medicine. The treatment is simple and does not cause any side effects. If anything, it rejuvenates the body and ensures that an individual stays fit and healthy.