Researchers May be Able to Predict Kidney Cancer Years in Advance

A recent study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research has found that a certain protein called KIM-1 may be able to predict renal cell carcinoma up to five years before diagnosis. For more information, you can read the source study here.

About Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also known as renal cell adenocarcinoma, is a form of kidney cancer. According to the BMJ Best Practise, RCC accounts for over 80% of all kidney cancers and is estimated to affect one in 10,000 people in North America.

RCC originates in the lining of the tubules, which are small tubes in the kidney involved in filtering the blood and producing urine. People with RCC often experience few symptoms at an early stage. However, the condition may be associated with blood in your urine, persistent pain under your ribs in your back or side, and a swelling in your side, amongst other possible symptoms, say the NHS.

Treatment of RCC tends more be more effective if the cancer is caught at an early stage, and this is why detection and screening methods are so important.

The Study Methodology

According to the study, previous research has shown that patients with RCC show high levels of the kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1) in their plasma. Based on this, a research team investigated whether levels of KIM-1 in the plasma could be used to detect RCC early on.

To do this, they measured the KIM-1 levels in plasma from 190 patients with RCC before diagnosis, and 190 control participants in a prospective cohort study. Patients had joined the cohort up to five years before being diagnosed with RCC, and controls were matched for date of birth, date of blood donation, sex, and country. The results were then statistically analysed to find the relationship between levels of KIM-1 in the plasma and RCC.

The Results

The researchers compared two models; one that included several known risk factors of RCC, such as age, sex, and whether or not someone smokes, and a second model that included the same factors and, in addition, KIM-1. The second model was found to be much better at telling the difference between patients with RCC and people who were controls without RCC. According to the research paper, levels of KIM-1 in the plasma could be used to predict RCC up to five years before patients are diagnosed. In addition, it was also found that high levels of KIM-1 in the plasma were associated with poorer survival.

Levels of KIM-1, therefore, appear to be a promising area of further research and may have the potential to improve RCC diagnosis.


Anna Hewitt

Anna Hewitt

Anna is from England and recently finished her undergraduate degree. She has an interest in medicine and enjoys writing. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with cats.

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