Kidney (Renal) Cancer Treatment in Sheba Medical Center
The kidneys are the body’s filtration system, responsible for cleansing the blood and eliminating waste products via urine. Normally people have two kidneys, although it is possible to survive with a single kidney. Modern medicine has advanced imaging techniques to measure kidney structure and function, as well as laboratory tests that ascertain the level of kidney function to a precise level.
During the 1980’s, a diagnosis of kidney cancer was very dire. Renal tumor could only be detected in their final stages, offering little hope for the patient. Happily, that is no longer the case today. Tumors of the kidneys can be detected early in their development and treatment can begin much sooner. Sheba Medical Center is at the forefront of both kidney cancer treatment and detection.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. About 90% of kidney cancer diagnoses are renal cell carcinoma. This cancer type has many subtypes, but clear cell renal cell carcinoma is the most frequently seen. Exact diagnosis is made by pathological examination, and an accurate diagnosis is crucial to proper treatment.
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing renal cancer. These include both controllable factors and factors that are out of the patient’s hands. For example, males are about twice as likely to have kidney cancer as females. Also, the large majority of kidney cancer cases occur in those over 50. Von Hippel Lindau syndrome, a hereditary disease, is another risk factor beyond the patient’s control.
Controllable risk factors include smoking and high blood pressure. Smoking cessation is critical for cancer prevention, and high blood pressure can often be controlled through lifestyle changes and medications.
While there are several staging classifications for kidney cancer, one of the most common uses four stages:
The tumor is 7 cm or smaller in the greatest dimension. It is located solely in the kidney, without having traveled to the lymph nodes or other organs.
The tumor has invaded a major vein, but not the lymph nodes, or the tumor has not spread outside of Gerota’s fascia, a specific type of connective tissue, but has invaded a local lymph node without spread to distant lymph nodes.
The tumor still has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs, but is now larger than 7 cm.
The tumor has spread further than Gerota’s fascia and may have invaded the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. The tumor also may have spread to distant organs and lymph nodes.
Some signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Hematuria, which is blood in the urine
- Pain or a lump in the lower back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent fever
- A decrease in red blood cells