Renal cell carcinoma is a cancer that originates in the proximal convoluted tubules of the kidneys. It is a serious disease that can spread to other parts of the body, including the adrenal glands, lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and the bones.
Renal cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining of the proximal convoluted tubules of the kidneys. The kidneys are located just above the waist on each side of the backbone. The proximal convoluted tubules are the small tubes of the kidneys that are responsible for filtering blood, and eliminating waste substances from the body. Renal cell carcinoma accounts for almost 80% of the total cases of kidney cancer.
The exact cause of this cancer has not been ascertained till now. However, certain factors have been observed to increase the risk of developing this cancer. Cigarette smoking and obesity are considered the most important risk factors for this condition. Hypertension is another factor that can increase the risk of developing this cancer. Moreover, it has been observed that this cancer is more common in people having cystic kidney diseases, who are already undergoing dialysis treatment.
Sometimes, this cancer may be caused by the overuse of certain medications as well. Genetics can also play an important role, as in many instances, genetic disorders like Von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary renal carcinoma, familial renal oncocytoma, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, and hereditary renal carcinoma may be associated with this condition. Sometimes, the excessive exposure to substances like asbestos, cadmium, certain dyes, petroleum products, and hydrocarbons can also increase the risk of this cancer.
The most common signs and symptoms associated with this condition are, hematuria or the presence of blood in the urine, flank pain, and a lump or mass in the abdomen. However, these symptoms may not appear in the early stage, or even if they appear, they can be easily confused with the symptoms of some other conditions. Apart from these, this cancer can produce a few other symptoms, like unexplained weight loss, anorexia, constipation, excessive growth of hair in females, and hypercalcemia or a high level of calcium in the blood. But sometimes, this cancer can be asymptomatic, i.e., it may not produce any symptoms.
Diagnosis and Treatment
This cancer is usually detected unexpectedly while carrying out CT scans or ultrasonography for another condition. The detection of a renal mass in these tests can suggest renal cell carcinoma. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also performed to obtain more information regarding the spread of the cancerous tumor to other regions of the kidney.
Apart from these, a three-dimensional CT scan, CT angiography, and magnetic resonance angiography can be carried out to detect the nature of the disease. An intravenous pyelogram is conducted to detect the cancer of the ureters, urinary bladder, and the kidneys. Sometimes, bone scanning can also be required for diagnosing this cancer. Along with these, the levels of electrolyte, creatinine, and calcium in the body are examined. A percutaneous biopsy can also be executed with the help of ultrasound and computed tomography, for the accurate diagnosis of this condition.
The common treatment option for this cancer is surgery, especially if the cancer is restricted only to the kidneys. Nephrectomy is the common surgical method employed for this condition. Nephrectomy can be open or it can be a laparoscopic nephrectomy. Cryosurgery can also be effective for treating this cancer, wherein the tumors or the cancerous cells are destroyed by freezing. Sometimes, medications can also be used to reduce the size of the tumor, and prolong the life span of the patients. However, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are very not effective in treating this cancer.
Renal cell carcinoma is a complicated disease. As mentioned already, certain factors can put an individual at an increased risk of developing this cancer. Smoking, hypertension, and the excessive exposure to toxic substances, are the most important risk factors for this condition, which need to be controlled to prevent this cancer.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.