Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the cells in the kidney. The two most common types of kidney cancer are Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) and Transitional Cell Carcinoma(TCC, also known as Urothelial Cell Carcinoma) of the renal pelvis.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are attached to the upper back wall of the abdomen. One kidney is just to the left and the other just to the right of the backbone. The lower rib cage protects the kidneys. Small glands called adrenal glands sit above each of the kidneys. Each kidney and adrenal gland is surrounded by fat and a thin, fibrous layer known as Gerotaís Fascia.

Main job of kidneys is to filter the blood coming in from the renal arteries to remove excess water, salt, and waste products. These substances become urine. Urine leaves the kidneys through long slender tubes called ureters, which connect to the bladder. The place where the ureter meets the kidney is called the renal pelvis. The urine is then stored in the bladder until one urinates.. The kidneys also have other jobs like helping control blood pressure by making a hormone called rennin and helping to make sure that the body has enough red blood cells by making a hormone called erythropoietin. This hormone tells the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also known as renal cell cancer or renal cell adenocarcinoma, is by far the most common type of kidney cancer. About 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas.

Although RCC usually grows as a single tumor within a kidney, sometimes there are 2 or more tumors in one kidney or even tumors in both kidneys at the same time. There are several subtypes of RCC, based mainly on how the cancer cells look under a microscope. Knowing the subtype of RCC can be a factor in deciding treatment and can also help your doctor determine if your cancer might be due to an inherited genetic syndrome.

Of every 100 cancers in the kidney, about 5 to 10 are Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC), also known as Urothelial Carcinoma. TCCs donít start in the kidney itself, but in the lining of the renal pelvis. This lining is made up of cells called transitional cells that look like the cells that line the ureters and bladder. Cancers that develop from these cells look like other urothelial carcinomas, such as bladder cancer, under the microscope. Like bladder cancer, these cancers are often linked to cigarette smoking and being exposed to certain cancer-causing chemicals in the workplace.

Renal Sarcoma is a rare type of kidney cancer that begin in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidney. They make up less than 1% of all kidney cancers.

These cancers are usually treated by surgically removing the whole kidney and the ureter, as well as the portion of the bladder where the ureter attaches. Smaller, less aggressive cancers can sometimes be treated with less surgery. Chemotherapy is sometimes given before or after surgery, depending on how much cancer is found. It is important to talk with the doctor to be aware of options and the benefits and risks of each treatment.

About 9 out of 10 TCCs of the kidney are cured if they are found at an early stage. The chances for cure are lower if the tumor has grown into the ureter wall or main part of the kidney or if it looks more aggressive when seen under a microscope. After treatment, follow-up visits to doctor for monitoring with cystoscopy and imaging tests are very important.

Disclaimer - Information for the Patients are as per current practice standard and wide experience of the author. Patients are advised to refer to respective international medical guidelines for contemporary management of specific issue.