The kidneys are a matched pair of vital organs located underneath your liver and stomach and near your backbone on either side. They help remove wastes from the body by making urine. They do this by filtering urea, salt and other substances from the blood as it flows through the kidneys. The kidneys serve also as glands that manufacture and secrete a variety of hormones.
When cell division is not orderly, abnormal growth takes place. Masses of tissue called tumors build up. Tumors may be benign or malignant.
Benign tumors remain localised and usually do not spread or threaten one's life. Malignant tumors are cancers. They can invade and destroy nearby tissues and organs or spread to other parts of the body by way of the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
The most common symptom of kidney cancer is visible blood in the urine. Blood in the urine can be the sign of a number of disorders other than cancer. But no matter what the cause, the condition should be brought to the attention of a doctor. Other common symptoms of kidney cancer are the presence of lump or mass in the tummy, and pain in the side. Like all cancers, systemic symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss and anemia may also present.
Diagnosis begins with a physical examination by your kidney specialist. Diagnostic x-ray is always used to confirm a suspected diagnosis of kidney cancer. If the basic x-ray examinations confirm a diagnosis of kidney cancer, your specialist will want to perform other tests that will tell him whether the cancer has spread. Chest x-rays and radioisotope bone scans are almost always included among these tests, because the lungs and the long bones are the areas to which kidney cancer cells most often spread.
Your medical history, general health, the type and location of the cancer and many other factors are considered in determining the treatment needed. Your treatment must be tailored to your individual needs. Surgery is the treatment for most cases of adult kidney cancers that have not spread to distant areas of the body.
X-ray treatment may be used for certain types of kidney cancer. If you have widespread kidney cancer, your specialist may recommend anti-cancer drugs.