The number of kidney cancers reported around the world is rising and the cause of it remains unclear. Approximately 8000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed each year in UK, with 3800 deaths. Often it causes no symptoms and is increasingly being diagnosed incidentally due to the use of ultrasound scans organised to look for other conditions. However, they can cause following problems–
Haematuria (blood in urine) – this may be visible or invisible. Invisible blood may be picked up by a simple urine dipstick test. Bleeding may not be continuous and may come and go. The presence of blood in the urine does not necessarily means cancer, but the possibility of cancer must be excluded by performing appropriate tests.
Occasionally a lump can be felt in their kidney area. However, this is very unusual presentation of kidney cancer. If a lump is felt, it must be brought to your doctor’s attention for further tests.
Vague symptoms – tiredness, anaemia (low blood count), weight loss, loss of appetite, high temperature or sweats. These symptoms can be caused by a wide variety of conditions and rarely by kidney cancer (usually in advanced stages of kidney cancer).
If you are worried about the possibility of kidney cancer for whatever reasons, consult your doctor. There is no national kidney cancer screening programme, but a simple ultrasound scan can be very helpful in diagnosing the problem.
Treatment for kidney cancer depends on how early it has been diagnosed (stage of the cancer). If diagnosed early enough, the most commonly performed treatment is surgical removal of the kidney (nephrectomy). At our centre, this is almost always done with key hole surgery (laparoscopic nephrectomy or partial nephrectomy).
In many cases, it is possible to remove just the cancer leaving behind rest of the healthy kidney (partial nephrectomy). Our Consultants specialise in doing these operations with keyhole surgery (laparoscopic partial nephrectomy).
If the cancer has spread, then surgery alone may not be able to cure the cancer and your specialist would discuss various treatment options including surgery and possible chemotherapy.
There are some novel therapies, e.g. radiofrequency ablation (heat destruction of tumour) and cryotherapy (freezing tumour). Such therapies may be discussed if appropriate.