Renal cell carcinoma is cancer or a mass that grows in the solid portion of the kidney.
Affecting about 32,000 people in the US each year, kidney cancer is most often curable when caught early.
The more common risk factors associated with RCC are:
Most patients who have kidney cancer do not have symptoms. The majority of kidney tumors are discovered incidentally on CT scans, ultrasound, MRIs performed for another reason.
The symptoms of more advanced RCC are:
Blood in the urine (hematuria) which is the most common sign, a mass in the abdominal area, fever, high blood pressure, pain in the side, flank or lower back, swelling in the legs and ankles. Late symptoms include anemia, persistent fatigue and rapid weight loss.
Following a thorough history and physical examination, your doctor may order additional imaging and lab tests, including: MRI or ultrasound, urinalysis, blood tests, a CT Urogram - an X-ray with dye to look at the structure of the kidneys, ureters and bladder X-ray or bone scan - to determine if cancer has spread to the lungs or bones. Needle biopsy of the mass in rare circumstances.
Staging your cancer will be assigned to one of four stages that describe how advanced and how aggressive the cancer is.
Earlier stages have a better prognosis.
Stage 1 - the tumor is less than or equal to 7 centimeters and confined to the kidney
Stage 2 - the tumor is larger than 7 centimeters but still confined to the kidney
Stage 3 - the tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues
Stage 4 - the tumor has spread more extensively (liver, lungs, bone and/or brain)
Treatment will depend on a number of factors, including your age and overall health, and the extent to which the cancer has spread.
When appropriate, your urologist will collaborate with other specialized urologic surgeons to provide state of the art care.
Minimally invasive surgery is the standard of care for treatment of RCC. The following procedures often can be performed laparoscopically and or robotically, .
Follow Up Surveillance
Since RCC may recur, your urologist will recommend follow-up care at varying intervals.