By Dr Swatantra Rao
Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They’re situated behind your intestines, with one kidney on each side of your spine. Their main job is to clean your blood by removing waste products and making urine. Kidney cancer starts in the kidneys. It happens when healthy cells in one or both kidneys go wild and form a lump (called a tumor). The most common type of kidney cancer is called Renal Cell Carcinoma. Fortunately, a large number of kidney cancers are found before they spread (metastasize) to far off organs. Furthermore, kidney cancers when caught early are easier to treat.
There are rarely any signs or symptoms of kidney cancer in the initial stage. What’s more, at present, there are no standard tests used to screen for kidney cancer in the absence of symptoms. In the later stages, kidney cancer signs and symptoms may include:
- Blood in urine, which may appear pink, red or cola-colored
- Pain in the back or side that doesn’t leave
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever, which generally appears and goes (irregular)
Risk factors for kidney cancer include –
- Smoking – Smokers have more danger of kidney cancer than nonsmokers do. The dangers diminish after you quit.
- Obesity – People who are obese are at a higher risk of kidney cancer.
- Dialysis – Patients on long term dialysis.
- Specific inherited syndromes – People born with certain inherited syndromes are at an increased risk of kidney cancer. These include Von-Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, or familial renal cancer.
- Family history – People with a strong family history of renal cell cancer are also at a risk.