A Patient’s Guide to Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. It develops when malignant cells form in the linings of the tubules of the kidneys. One or both kidneys may be affected. Patients who have been diagnosed with kidney cancer are encouraged to speak with a urologist about their cancer treatment options.

Signs and Symptoms

In its early stages, renal cell carcinoma may not cause any noticeable symptoms. As the cancer progresses, patients may experience abdominal pain and swelling, back pain, bloody urine, and unintentional weight loss. Male patients may develop a varicocele, which refers to the swelling of the veins of a testicle. Female patients may experience excessive hair growth. Anemia, loss of appetite, pain in the side, and vision problems may also develop because of kidney cancer.

Risk Factors

Most patients who are diagnosed with kidney cancer are men between the ages of 50 and 70. Smoking is known to be a significant risk factor of kidney cancer, as is the long-term use of certain medications such as pain pills and diuretics. Other risk factors may include obesity, polycystic kidney disease, high blood pressure, history of dialysis treatment, and a family history of the disease.

Diagnostic Tests

A primary care physician may suspect kidney cancer upon performing a physical exam, which may reveal the presence of a lump in the abdomen and, in men, a varicocele. Then, patients may be referred to a urologist for further testing. These medical tests may include imaging studies, blood tests, urinalysis, liver function tests, and renal arteriography.

Treatment Options

Most often, the treatment for this particular type of cancer is surgery to remove part or all of the kidney. Sometimes, it may be necessary to remove the bladder, lymph nodes, and other surrounding tissues. Some medications may be helpful, although chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not generally effective for kidney cancer.

Urology Associates, P.C. is your partner in wellness. Our urology team provides cutting-edge cancer treatment throughout Middle Tennessee, including kidney and bladder cancer treatment. If your primary care physician suspects that you might have renal cell carcinoma, call us without delay at (855) 901-1338.