Kidney cancer, also known as renal cell adenocarcinoma, happens when abnormal cells grow in the kidneys and get out of control.
Your kidneys are very important organs that support your health and overall wellbeing. A few of their important jobs include:
While some tumors in the kidney are cancerous (that is, malignant), not all tumors in the kidneys are cancerous. In fact, 25% of all kidney tumors are benign, meaning that they are harmless and do not cause cancer. On a similar note, 40% of kidney masses (which is how kidney cancers usually start) do not spread.
Most growths in the kidney don’t really show any symptoms in the beginning. However, when they do show symptoms, you will likely notice one or more of the following:
Most kidney cancers are discovered by chance when a patient gets an imaging test for a different medical condition. For that reason, your doctor may end up running quite a few tests to figure out if you actually have kidney cancer. In addition to the usual tests such as a complete physical exam and standard lab work, your doctor might also order one or more of the following:
Your doctor will use all the information collected by running these tests to determine if you have kidney cancer and if so, what kind of kidney cancer you have, whether it has spread (or metastasized) to other organs, and how to tailor a treatment plan specific to your needs. Kidney cancer generally boils down to 4 treatment options, which are: