Helpful Information for Patients
What is Kidney Cancer?
The cells in our body may sometimes start dividing uncontrollably and start forming masses of tissue known as tumours. Tumours can be cancerous (known as malignant tumours) and can spread to other parts of the body, or non-cancerous (known as benign tumours) which do not spread. If these tumours form in your kidney, there is a possibility that you may have kidney cancer.
When should you see a doctor?
The early stages of kidney cancer do not usually cause any discomfort and are usually discovered during an examination for other conditions. You should see a doctor if you have blood in the urine, a persistent pain in your abdomen, back or sides that does not go away, feel a lump in the abdomen, have a sudden loss of weight and appetite that cannot be explained, experience fatigue or have low iron content in your blood.
How are Kidney Cancers confirmed?
Kidney cancer can be confirmed through different tests. Imaging tests will allow your doctor to determine if there is a presence of any abnormal growths in and around your kidneys. These tests include ultrasounds scans, CT scans and MRI scans.
A biopsy may also be done by your doctor to obtain samples from your kidney to be further tested in the laboratories.
Kidney Cancer treatment
If kidney cancer is confirmed, your doctor’s recommended treatment will depend on the stage of kidney cancer and your overall health.
Early Kidney Cancers have a high cure rate when treated with surgery. For those who are not surgically fit, tumour ablation with radiofrequency or cryotherapy may be considered. In late advanced stages, in addition to surgery, other additional treatments may include targeted therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy.
A common surgical procedure is a Radical Nephrectomy, which is the surgical removal of the kidney with all the cancer cells. The nephrectomy may be radical (which removes the entire kidney and tumour) or partial (which removes the tumour and some kidney tissue).
Robotic and laparoscopic surgery are minimally invasive methods of kidney cancer surgery. This method allows the use of smaller incisions, with key-hole laparoscopic instruments occasionally assisted through robot during the surgery.