Lesser Known 11 Interesting Facts About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer starts when the healthy cells in one or both the kidneys grow out of control, leading to lump formation.  Kidney tumour growths can be benign as well, but can still cause numerous health issues. A 2018 report states kidney cancer to be the 14th most common cancer worldwide. Kidney cancer might be due to various causes, including both an individual’s lifestyle or hereditary factors. Taking note of early signs and symptoms for kidney cancer will help in an immediate and better plan for treatment.

What are the early signs of kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer occurrence rarely shows distinct early signs or symptoms. The early signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include swelling in ankles or legs, hematuria (blood in the urine), a lump on the side, abdomen or lower back, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, anaemia. 

The signs for kidney cancer are varied and also include those related to other benign diseases. These symptoms could well be related to other diagnoses, like anaemia could result in weight loss, constant fatigue, breathlessness or weight loss. It could result from a back injury or viral fever – consult a doctor when these symptoms persist. 

With the kidneys situated deep inside the body, the diagnosis for kidney cancer takes more than just examining for the lumps. A blood or a urine test, imaging tests like Ultrasonography, CT and MRI or a biopsy is helpful to diagnose patients with high risks to develop renal carcinoma. 

What is the main cause of kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is not very common, and an individual’s chances to develop kidney cancer in their lifetime is 2.02% in men and 1.02% in women. For some individuals, kidney cancer has proven to be hereditary.

Kidney cancer causes include an individual’s lifestyle conditions and prior history of kidney diseases. These include older age, hypertensive, obesity, as well as smoking habits. People with a history of kidney disorders, chronic kidney failure or exhibiting inherited syndromes like having von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome are at greater risk. With the absence of an inherited syndrome, people with a tuberous sclerosis complex, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma or a family history of renal cancer are susceptible to the disease. Other causes for the development of kidney cancer could be continuous specific unprescribed over-the-counter use of drugs (like pain medications) or could result from occupational exposure of harmful chemicals like asbestos, cadmium, benzene, herbicides. 

Following are 11 most interesting facts about kidney cancer.

11 interesting kidney cancer facts that you may not have known…until now!

  1. Kidney cancer is among the top 10 most prevalent cancers in both men and women. Men are twice more likely to develop kidney cancer than women. It is estimated that 1 in 63 people will develop it in their lifetime.
  2. Kidney cancer is not a single disease, it is made up of a number of different types of cancer, each with different histology, a different clinical course, responding differently to therapy and caused by a different gene. Studies have elucidated the role of thirteen genes (VHL, MET, FLCN, fumarate hydratase, succinate dehydrogenase B, succinate dehydrogenase D, TFE3, TFEB, MITF, TSC1, TSC2 and PTEN) in kidney cancer. These genes are involved in the cell’s ability to sense oxygen, iron, nutrients or energy. Thus, it can be concluded that this cancer is fundamentally a metabolic disease. There are several types of kidney cancers, but renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer.
  3. Running & Walking may reduce the incidence of kidney cancer risk, independent of its other known risk factors. Cigarette smoking, Obesity and hypertension are well-established risk factors for renal cell cancer.
  4. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) may occur sporadically, but there are four heritable syndromes associated with RCC namely, von hippel Lindau disease (VHL), Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (RCC), Hereditary papillary renal cancer (HPRC), Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome (BHD) that contribute to this cancer.
  5. Majority of kidney cancer among children is nephroblastoma (Wilm’s tumor), comprising about 1.1% of all in this type of cancers. About 80-90% of wilm’s tumor patients with favorable histology can be cured. In Wilm’s tumor, one or more tumors are found in both kidneys.
  6. Patients who are on dialysis, especially those with a long history of acquired cystic disease tend to develop papillary hyperplasia in the epithelium of the cysts that could trigger a renal carcinoma.
  7. A constant back ache, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, a mass or lump that can be felt on the lower back or side, intermittent fever can be some of the signs of kidney cancer.
  8. Analgesics including acetaminophen and non-aspirin NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs) are associated with a significant risk of developing the cancer.
  9. Recent advances in chromatin remodeling and genetic studies have been instrumental in the discovery of novel targeted therapeutic agents.  Some of them include those targeting the VEGF signaling, mTOR signaling, HIF2. Further understanding of the molecular basis will be helpful in developing effective forms of therapy for this disease.
  10. In the last decade, immunotherapy has been the major therapeutic option for patients with RCC. About 60-70% of patients have been known to show complete response to immunotherapy. Sorafenib was the first angiogenesis agent approved for metastatic RCC. This is a VEFG tyrosine kinase inhibitor as well as inhibits PDGFR (platelet derived growth factor receptor).
  11. Robotic partial nephrectomy has become the robotic kidney surgery of choice for most patients with kidney cancer or a benign kidney tumor. In this procedure, the kidney tumor is removed while leaving the rest of the kidney intact—an approach that has been shown to maximize the patient’s post-operative kidney function.So, there you go those were the 11 interesting facts about kidney cancer. Hope that helps and you keep your kidney healthy.