Information on Kidney Cancer:
The causes of kidney cancer
Although scientists do not know the exact causes of kidney cancers, there is evidence to suggest that smoking is an important factor in many cases. Like cancer of the bladder, kidney cancer has also been linked to exposure to harmful chemicals, such as lead (found in some paints), cadmium and asbestos.
Fortunately, it is rare for cancer to spread from one kidney to the other, so (where necessary) the removal of a kidney is possible whilst still maintaining quality of life.
Cancer of the kidney normally affects middle-aged or older people, although there are rare forms that affect children – such as Wilm’s tumour, or nephroblastoma.
The symptoms of kidney cancer
The symptoms of kidney cancer can include any of the following:
- Blood in the urine – which may come and go, but eventually returns.
- Spasms in the bladder (or in the tubes leading from your kidneys to your bladder), caused by blood clots.
- A lump in the lower abdomen.
- A dull pain in your side.
- A persistent fever.
- High blood pressure.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Although these symptoms can be present with other less serious medical conditions, you should consult your doctor immediately if you experience them.
Methods of diagnosis
Having undergone a physical examination, the following tests can be used to help diagnose kidney cancer and to determine if the disease has spread to other parts of your body:
- CT scan (CAT scan).
- Intravenous urogram (IVU or IVP).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI or NMR scan).
- Ultrasound scan – if the ultrasound scan indicates an abnormality such as a change in shape or size of a kidney, or the presence of a lump or cyst, a biopsy may also be conducted at the same time.