Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Kidney (Renal) Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is a condition wherein cancerous cells are found in the lining of the tubules. The tubules of the kidney clean and filter the blood, flush out the waste products, and make urine. Kidney cancer is one of the ten most common cancers and more than 70,000 new cases of kidney cancer have been identified in the country in 2019. It is important to diagnose the condition to get the right treatment using the following methods:

  1. Diagnosis

Kidney cancer can often be cured if the condition is diagnosed at an early stage and treated when the cancer cells have not spread to other parts of the body. The chances of the condition to be cured depend on the degree of the spread of the tumor and the stage of the disease. Although kidney cancer screening is based on the size of the tumor, the size should not be the only determining factor for the treatment. This is because metastasis can occur with a smaller mass of tumor as well. Some of the medical tests and procedures that may be used for kidney cancer screening are:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood chemistry examinations
  • Biopsy
  • MRI
  1. Physical exam

Moreover, a physical examination of the body may also be necessary to check for any lumps, signs of a condition, and general health signs. Any previous illnesses and treatments are taken into consideration to diagnose a condition. Once renal cancer is diagnosed, several tests are conducted to check if cancer has spread within the kidney or to other body parts. There are a few general treatment options available for kidney cancer. However, there are new treatments as well that are being tested in clinical trials.  

  1. Renal cancer surgery

One of the common types of kidney cancer treatment is surgery where either a part of the kidney or the entire organ is removed. The different types of surgery used for treating kidney cancer are:

  • Simple nephrectomy
  • Partial nephrectomy
  • Radical nephrectomy
  1. Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to destroy the cancer cells or stop them from multiplying. There are two types of radiation therapy:

  • Internal radiation therapy: This therapy uses a radioactive substance to treat cancer. The substance is sealed in wires, catheters, needles, or seeds and is placed directly near or into cancer.
  • External radiation therapy: In this radiation treatment, a machine that is outside the body is used to send radiation to cancer. This treatment type may also be used as palliative therapy, which is used in relieving the signs of the condition and improving the quality of life.
  1. Immunotherapy

Also known as biologic therapy or biotherapy, immunotherapy is a treatment wherein the patient’s immune system is used to fight cancer. Using the substances made either in the laboratories or by the body itself, immunotherapy helps in boosting, restoring, and directing the natural defense system of the body against cancer.

  1. Targeted therapy

This treatment uses medication or other substances in order to detect and destroy the specific cancer cells in the body without harming the healthy cells. Advanced kidney cancer is treated with targeted therapy and antiangiogenic agents, which help in keeping the blood vessels from developing a tumor and stops its growth.

  1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses medications for stopping the growth of the cancerous cells, either by stopping the multiplication of the cells or by killing the cells. The chemo medications enter the bloodstream and reach each body part, making the treatment of cancer possible in areas where cancer has spread.