World Kidney Cancer Day
Our kidneys are only about the size of a fist but they play an important role in our bodies by cleaning the blood, removing the waste products, and making urine. These bean-shaped organs are located in the lower abdomen of the body. Kidney cancer or renal cancer occurs when the kidney cells become cancerous and form a tumor. According to the GLOBOCAN 2020 report, Kidney Cancer is the 14th and 15th leading cause of new cases and deaths respectively. In India alone, 1 in 422 men and 1 in 600 women are at high risk of developing kidney cancer. It causes the death of 1.8 lakh people every year.
Dr. Mohit Khirbat, Department of Nephrology & Dialysis, CK Birla Hospital, says that a total of 30% of kidney cancer patients are younger than 50 years, lately, there have even been cases where the patients were as young as 18 years.
What are the risk factors for Kidney Cancer?
There are no particular risk factors but people who are obese, smokers, have advanced kidney disease, or have a family history of kidney cancer are more at risk. People who have diabetes and hypertension are at a higher risk of getting chronic health kidney disease, and therefore have a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of kidney cancer?
● Blood in urine
● A lump on the side of the abdomen
● Loss of appetite
● Sudden weight loss
● Fever that lasts for weeks
● Extreme fatigue
● Swelling in ankles
● Night sweats
● Hypercalcemia (a condition where the calcium level in your blood is above normal)
● Malaise (a general feeling of discomfort or uneasiness)
If cancer has spread beyond the kidneys and further in the body, it may lead to symptoms like shortness of breath, bone pain, or coughing blood.
If detected early, kidney cancers can be successfully treated. Hence, it is extremely important to get a check-up and consult with your doctors in the event of probable symptoms. Kidney cancer usually gets diagnosed in a routine ultrasound scan; urine tests and CT scans are also some of the common diagnostic tests used to ascertain the presence of cancerous cells in the kidney. However, doctors have also observed that patients are reluctant and scared to visit hospitals for routine check-ups and tests like ultrasound scans.
What are the treatment options to treat Kidney Cancer?
According to the NCRP 2021 report, the most used treatment in the case of kidney cancer is surgery. If the tumor has spread to the whole kidney, then the entire kidney is surgically removed along with the tumor. In other cases, only the tumor and its surrounding area are surgically removed to cure the patient.
However, if cancer has spread to other body organs apart from the kidney, then surgery will not be the choice of treatment. Instead, targeted therapy and immunotherapy would be the more effective alternatives. Both of these therapies have fewer side effects compared to conventional chemotherapy. They can either be used alone or in combination to get complete responses even in the advanced cases. The treatment also has the potential to strengthen the patient’s immunity to guard their body against tumors in the future.
On this World Kidney Cancer Day, commit to a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercising, zero consumption of alcohol and tobacco, along with being on a constant watch against symptoms of cancer. You can also do your part by spreading awareness about Kidney Cancer among your circle. Remember, early diagnosis along with the right treatment is the key to beating kidney cancer!