Renal Cell Carcinoma
What is renal cell carcinoma?
Renal cell carcinoma is a type of kidney cancer that spreads easily to the lungs and other organs. There have also been several reports of this “metastatic” renal cell carcinoma in rare sites in the body. However, usually, it begins as just one tumor in a kidney, though it can be found in both kidneys at once. Although rare, renal cell carcinoma is the most common kind of kidney cancer in adults. Renal cell carcinoma is more common in males than females and especially common between the ages of 50 and 70.
What are the symptoms of renal cell carcinoma?
Some patients with renal cell carcinoma are asymptomatic, especially early on, and some patients do not have symptoms until the cancer has spread to another part of the body. When symptoms occur, they include:
- Blood in the urine (most common) or rusty-colored urine
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Enlarged testicle or varicose testis vein
- Vision abnormalities
- High blood pressure
What causes renal cell carcinoma?
The precise cause of renal cell carcinoma is not known, although a history of smoking does increase the risk of developing this condition. In addition, people with a history of kidney problems are more likely to develop renal cell carcinoma. Recent research has been done on a potential genetic cause or predisposition for renal cell carcinoma, as this particular form of kidney cancer has developed in several members of the same family. The PRC gene, TFE 3 gene, and VHL gene have all been linked with kidney cancer.
How is renal cell carcinoma diagnosed?
The most common way to diagnose renal cell carcinoma is through the use of a CT scan, but an abdominal ultrasound, and blood and urine testing may also be helpful. To confirm the diagnosis, a nephrectomy (removing part of the kidney) may also be done to check for cancer cells. Early detection is key so that treatment can begin right away.
What are the available treatments for renal cell carcinoma?
Treatment for renal cell carcinoma often involves a surgical removal of part or all of the kidney, bladder, and/or surrounding tissues. In some cases, chemotherapy, ablation, and/or hormone treatments may also be used to help reduce the growth of tumors. In addition to these, the FDA has also approved the following drugs for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma:
- Sorafenib (Nexavar)
- Afinitor ®
Where can I find out more about renal cell carcinoma?