Your kidneys are tucked below your ribs against the back of your abdominal wall. These bean-shaped organs work hard to filter toxins from your blood, turn liquid waste into urine, and do other important jobs, like making red blood cells, managing your vitamin D levels, and regulating electrolytes.
As the 10th most common cancer in men and women, nearly 80,000 American men and women are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common, accounting for over 90% of all cases, but other types exist, including:
At Urological Associates in Charlottesville, Virginia, our board-certified providers offer minimally invasive surgical treatment for kidney cancers. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with or is worried about kidney cancer, keep reading to learn four encouraging facts about this relatively common disease.
The overall 5-year relative survival rate for patients with kidney cancer is about 76%. That means on average, people with kidney cancer are about 76% as likely to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed as people without kidney cancer.
But for patients with localized kidney cancer, which means the cancer hasn’t yet spread outside the organ, this rate increases to 93%. However, kidney cancers don’t typically cause noticeable symptoms in the earliest stages.
In fact, most early-stage kidney cancer is caught during imaging studies or testing for other conditions. That means by being aware and taking proactive steps with your health in all areas, your likelihood of early diagnosis increases.
When they occur, the most common early symptom is hematuria, or blood in the urine. Hematuria can have other non-cancerous causes, but seeing blood in your urine is never normal.
If you notice blood, which may appear light pink, rusty, or dark red, schedule an appointment with a provider at Urological Associates. Other early symptoms and warning signs of kidney cancer include:
Again, other non-cancerous conditions can also cause these symptoms. That’s why it’s important to check with an expert if you experience any of the above and are worried about kidney cancer.
Not all treatment plans for kidney cancer involve surgery. However, in most cases, surgery is the most effective treatment. In some cases, a kidney-sparing surgery may be performed, which involves removal of the tumor and some surrounding tissue.
Most commonly, kidney cancer patients undergo surgical removal of the cancerous kidney, surrounding lymph nodes and other soft tissues, and adrenal gland, which sits right above your kidney. Sometimes surgery is followed up with other therapies, like targeted medications.
While having a kidney removed is major surgery, the good news is that you can live a healthy, full life once you’re recovered. This is because one functioning kidney can work almost as well as two kidneys.
At Urological Associates, our providers specialize in minimally invasive kidney cancer surgeries to help you recover and get back on your feet faster.
People with a family history of kidney cancer have an elevated risk of developing the disease. This is also true for certain inherited genetic syndromes, including:
If you have any of these in your family history, talk to your Urological Associates provider, as they may recommend testing. Knowing your family history can also help you take active steps to reduce your risk by avoiding or minimizing risk factors you can control, like:
While you can’t control every factor, being aware of your genetic history and working on the factors you can control can help you and your kidneys stay healthy.
One of the most encouraging facts about kidney cancer is that new, cutting-edge research means better outcomes for patients diagnosed with this disease. One promising treatment involves human monoclonal antibodies (Mabs).
Scientists develop Mabs to bind to specific substances. With kidney cancer, researchers develop Mabs that bind only to the cancer cells. Once bound, the Mabs then produce immunological responses that fight the cancer—with less harm to healthy cells compared to traditional cancer treatments.
If you’re worried about kidney cancer, get your questions answered by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at Urological Associates in Charlottesville, Virginia.