Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also called renal carcinoma, is a cancer of the kidney cells. It occurs when they grow abnormally and excessively, resulting in a tumour. Almost all kidney cancers originate from the lining of tubules in the kidney. Fortunately, most kidney cancers are diagnosed before they metastasize to distant organs. They can, therefore, be treated successfully at an earlier stage.

Kidney cancer is of different types, including:

  • Renal cell carcinoma (RCC)
    This is the commonest type of kidney cancer that occurs in adults and accounts for around 85% of the total cases. The cancer usually starts as a single tumour in a single kidney, but it sometimes involves both the kidneys. The cancer originates in the cells that line the tubules of the kidney. Clear cell renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of RCC.
  • Transitional cell cancer
    Around 6% to 7% of all kidney cancer cases are transitional cell carcinomas. This cancer generally originates in the part where the ureter connects to the kidney’s main part. This area is referred to as the renal pelvis. The cancer also occurs in the bladder or the ureters.
  • Renal sarcoma
    It is the rarest form of kidney cancer that accounts for only about 1% of the total kidney cancer cases. It originates from the kidneys’ connective tissues. If not treated at the right time, the cancer spreads to the surrounding organs and bones.
  • Wilms tumour
    It is the commonest form of kidney cancer that occurs in children. It constitutes around 5% of all the kidney cancer cases.

The exact cause of kidney cancer is not known. However, the presence of certain risk factors may increase your susceptibility towards the disease. Following are some risk factors that increase the chances of developing kidney cancers:

  • Smoking
    Those who smoke are at a higher risk for developing kidney cancer. Apart from that, the risk increases with the duration of smoking.
  • Obesity
    Another risk factor for developing kidney cancer is obesity. The risk increases with increasing weight.
  • High blood pressure
    High blood pressure is associated with a higher risk of kidney cancer.
  • Family history
    If your family member such as a parent or a sibling suffers from kidney cancer, you are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Radiation therapy
    Females who have undergone radiation therapy as a part of treatment plan for gynaecological cancers are at a slightly higher risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Mutations
    The instructions for the function of a cell are carried by genes. Mutations in certain genes can increase kidney cancer risk.
  • Long-term dialysis treatment
    Dialysis can be defined as the process of clearing the blood by passing it through a special equipment. The procedure is used when the kidneys of a person are not working normally.
  • Tuberous sclerosis complex
    This disease results in intellectual disabilities and seizures. Apart from that, it also leads to the formation of tumours in various body areas.
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL)
    Those suffering from this congenital condition are at an increased risk of developing kidney cancer. This medical condition leads to the formation of benign tumours in the blood vessels of the brain and the eyes.

It depends on whether the tumour is benign or malignant. Benign tumours are usually smaller than malignant ones and don’t metastasise to other body parts. The most common treatment for benign kidney tumours is their surgical removal.

Whether the kidney tumour is benign or malignant, the treatment should be commenced as soon as possible so that the complications are avoided.

Risk factors for kidney cancer

The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown. However, the risk of getting kidney cancer is found to be increased in the presence of some factors. Please note that having these risk factors does not mean you will develop kidney cancer. Conversely, kidney cancer develops even in the absence of risk factors.

  • Smoking
    Smokers are at twice the risk of developing kidney cancers compared to nonsmokers.
  • Gender
    Kidney cancer more commonly occurs in men.
  • Obesity
    Obesity causes changes to some hormones, increasing the risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Drugs
    Using NSAIDs for a long time increases the risk
  • Medical history
    Patients with advanced kidney disease or on dialysis for a long time
  • Genetic diseases
    like von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease or inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Family history of renal cancer
    The risk is especially high if a family member has it.
  • Chemicals
    Being exposed to certain chemicals such as asbestos, cadmium, or benzene increases the risk

Symptoms of kidney cancer

In the early stages, kidney cancers are asymptomatic. As the disease progresses and the tumour increases in size, symptoms may appear. Following are the most common symptoms:

  • Blood in urine
  • Lump or swelling in the abdomen
  • Decreased appetite
  • Persistent pain on the side of the abdomen, slightly towards the back
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever of unknown origin
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Anaemia
  • Swelling in the ankles or legs

If cancer has metastasised to other organs, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain in the bones

Diagnosis of kidney cancer

  • Urine tests
    To check if the urine contains blood cells or other signs of abnormalities.
  • Blood tests
    To find out if the kidneys are functioning well.
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
    IVP is an X-ray of the renal system taken after injecting a dye that can travel through the urinary tract and highlight any tumours.
  • Ultrasound
    It helps determine if a tumour is solid or cystic.
  • CT scan
    After injecting a dye, X-rays are used to form a series of detailed pictures of the kidneys on a computer screen. CT scan is a more efficient diagnostic tool than pyelogram and ultrasound for diagnosing kidney cancer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    After injection of contrast, magnetic and radio waves are used to form detailed images of soft tissues of the body on a monitor.
  • Renal arteriogram
    It is done to evaluate the blood supply to the tumour.
  • Biopsy
    Unlike some other cancers, kidney cancer is diagnosed accurately without a biopsy. However, a biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis in some cases.

Stages of kidney cancer

The prognosis greatly depends on the grade and stage of kidney cancer. The higher the stage, the more aggressive cancer and the poorer the prognosis.

  • Stage I
    When the tumour is 7 centimetres or smaller and is confined to the kidney
  • Stage II
    When the tumour is larger than 7 centimetres and is confined to the kidney
  • Stage III
    A tumour that is confined to the kidney, its main blood vessels, or the fatty tissue surrounding it and has involved a local lymph node
  • Stage IV
    When the tumour has spread beyond the fatty tissue surrounding the kidney to other organs like the bowel, pancreas, or lungs. It may also be in nearby lymph nodes.

Treatment of Kidney Cancer

If you are looking for the Best Kidney Cancer Treatment Hospital in Indore, your search is over. After diagnosis and staging of cancer, you will be referred to a specialist oncology team composed of a urologist, a medical or radiation oncologist, a surgeon, and supporting staff. Several treatment modalities are available for kidney cancer. In most cases, surgery is the first choice.

Surgeries for kidney cancer

Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore is one of the best hospitals for Kidney Cancer Surgery in Indore. You can trust our expert surgeons to treat your disease in the best possible way. The type of surgery the oncology team chooses for you depends on your overall health and cancer stage.

  • Radical nephrectomy
    It is the most common surgery done for kidney cancers and can now be performed laparoscopically. The kidney, adrenal gland, involved lymph nodes, and some amount of surrounding tissue is resected.
  • Simple nephrectomy
    Only the kidney is removed.
  • Partial nephrectomy
    This procedure aims to remove cancer in the kidney and some tissue around it. It is done when the tumour is small, less than 4 cm, or when it is considered unsafe to perform more extensive procedures. Survival is possible with just a part of a kidney as long as it functions properly.

Other treatment options

If the tumour is not resectable or if the patient is unfit for surgery, some other treatment options are considered to destroy the tumour.

  • Cryotherapy
    During this procedure, extremely cold temperatures are used to destroy the tumour.
  • Radiofrequency ablation
    This procedure uses high-energy radio waves to destroy the tumour.
  • Arterial embolisation
    The blood flow to the tumour is blocked by inserting a material into the artery that supplies blood to the kidney. It is done before surgery to help shrink the tumour.
  • Biologic therapy
    It is aimed at boosting, directing, or restoring the body's natural defences to help fight the tumour efficiently. Agents used in this therapy include interferon-alpha or interleukin-2.
  • Targeted therapy
    This therapy uses drugs to find and target cancer cells while sparing the normal cells.

Radiation therapy

For surgically non-resectable tumours or if the patient is unfit for surgery, radiation therapy is used to control the symptoms of kidney cancer. X-rays or other types of rays are used to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing.


During this therapy, certain drugs are used to destroy cancer cells or stop their multiplication. Chemotherapy is, however, relatively less effective for kidney cancers. It is mostly used for sarcomatoid variants of kidney cancer.

Prevention of Kidney Cancer

Because the causes of kidney cancer are unknown, it is not clear how to prevent the disease. However, certain known risk factors for kidney cancer can be controlled. Taking measures to quit smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, managing your blood pressure, and avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals may help prevent kidney cancer.

Receiving a diagnosis for kidney cancer can be quite shocking. Like many other cancers, the treatment plan is more successful if it is started early, when the cancer has not advanced. Your doctor will communicate the treatment plan with you and describe all the treatment options in detail along with their pros and cons.