Kidney cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the tissues of the kidneys. Most people have two kidneys and they are located above the waist (in the ‘flank’) on each side of the spine. The kidneys function to filter the blood and produce urine, which is transported by the ureters to the urinary bladder.
Some risk factors for kidney cancer include smoking, obesity, renal failure (on dialysis), exposure to some chemicals or toxins, and some genetic conditions. Symptoms may include pain in the lower back/flank, blood in the urine, lump in the abdomen, unplanned dramatic weight loss, and swelling of ankles, legs, or abdomen.
A diagnosis maybe suspected based on history and physical examination and can usually be investigated further with imaging such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI.
Treatment will depend on the stage of cancer, but may likely need to include surgery to remove the tumor or the whole kidney. Treatment may also include immunotherapy and medications that act on specific receptors or enzymes to help thwart the cancer. We use a multidisciplinary approach with urologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and clinical trial specialists to determine the full spectrum of treatment options available and most suitable for an individual patient.