The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that sit on either side of the spine. Their primary function is a filter, removing wastes that are then relegated to the urinary bladder. Kidney cancer may occur in one or both of these organs. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell cancer, affecting the lining of small tubes that perform the filtering functions.
Symptoms of kidney cancer
Kidney cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms during the early stages. Once symptoms do show up, they can include:
- Bloody or discolored urine
- Back pain directly below the ribs
- Unexplained weight loss
While the above symptoms don’t conclusively point to kidney cancer, it is wise to make an appointment with a doctor should any of them arise.
Testing for kidney cancer
In the diagnosis of kidney cancer, the following tests may be administered as part of a kidney cancer screening:
- Blood and urine samples for lab examination. This will give the doctor data regarding what is causing the symptoms.
- A standard battery of imaging tests to help the doctor visualize what is occurring. These include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- A kidney biopsy may be called for as part of a kidney cancer screening in order to examine a suspicious area of the kidney.
Treatment for kidney cancer
Surgery is the primary options for kidney cancer treatment in most cases. There are different degrees of kidney cancer surgery. The most involved is a radical nephrectomy, which removes the entire kidney as well as a margin of healthy tissue and neighboring lymph nodes. A kidney surgery may simply involve removal of the tumor itself while leaving the remainder of the kidney intact. This is called a partial nephrectomy, and also involves removal of a narrow portion of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. At the Beverly Hills Cancer center we will work with each patient to create a customized surgery plan if this is decided to be the best route. Our doctors are proud to provide among the best kidney cancer treatment available in Los Angeles and the world.
In certain cases, surgery is not a treatment option for kidney cancer. Under this circumstance, another option is cryoablation, which involves removal of tissue through freezing. This is administered with very cold gas through a needle directly into the kidney tissue.
An alternate option is radiofrequency ablation, which involves heating cancer cells to eliminate them. A needle is inserted directly into the tumor with the guidance of an x-ray machine. The cancerous tissue is then heated with electrical current that runs through the needle, causing the cells to burn up.
In more advanced forms of cancer, there are other kidney cancer treatment options available at our Los Angeles facility, which primarily serve to manage symptoms instead of curing the disease. These treatment options are:
- Surgery to remove the majority of the tumor when removal of the entire tumor is not possible.
- Biological therapy can use the immune system to effectively battle cancerous cells.
- Targeted drug therapy, to target specific abnormalities in kidney cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy can be used to focus high-power energy beams on the kidney cancer site, eliminating cancer cells. It may also be used if the cancer has spread to other organs or bones.
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