The best kidney cancer treatment will not be helpful if treatment is delayed
because you are ignoring, or trying to ignore, your symptoms.
When you are dealing with cancer early identification and treatment is the key to the best possible outcome. Delaying treatment only gives the cancer a chance to get worse.
With time it causes more damage at the location where it begins and it may metastasize, or spread, to other organs in other locations throughout your body.
Early treatment for kidney cancer that has not metastasized to other areas has a very high success rate so recognizing your symptoms of kidney cancer and starting treatment as soon as possible is very important.
The first sign of kidney cancer is often back pain. It may be only a minor ache or it may be severe, sharp, and stabbing. Most commonly it will be felt on one side or the other of your mid back region where your kidneys are located.
Other common symptoms of kidney cancer that should catch your attention are blood in your urine, and a lump or swelling in your mid back or flank region.
Other more general signs that you may have a problem, but not necessarily kidney cancer, are unexplained fever, unplanned weight loss, unreasonable fatigue or tiredness, or always feeling poorly. Any of these symptoms may have many different possible causes but none of them are signs of good health. If you have any of these symptoms you should see your doctor even if they don't mean that you have kidney cancer.
If kidney cancer has been identified, before beginning treatment, your doctor will identify and stage your cancer. This means you will find out what type of cancer you have and how far it has spread or developed.
With this information your doctor can decide on the correct kidney cancer treatment plan for you and your situation. He will need to consider your overall health, any other health problems you may have, and the possible side effects of treating your cancer.
All Treatments have Side Effects and Risks
All kidney cancer treatments have side effects that you will want to discuss with your doctor before beginning any kidney cancer treatment.
After your doctor has identified the type of cancer that you have and determined how far it has spread he will decide on an appropriate treatment plan.
If your cancer has not spread beyond your kidney surgery may be a good option for treatment. Depending on the size of your cancer they may decide to remove only a portion of your kidney (partial nephrectomy) or remove your entire kidney (radical nephrectomy).
They may also remove nearby lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are part of your immune system and are usually the first place a cancer will spread. Your body has many lymph nodes so removing a few of them in area of your cancer will not cause any problems and it will help your doctor make sure that all of the cancer cells are removed.
If your cancer appears to be all in one spot your doctor may use cryoablation or Radio Frequency Ablation to freeze (cryoablation) or heat (Radio Frequency Ablation) the tumor and kill the cancer cells.
This may be done with an instrument similar to a needle that is inserted through the skin and into the area of your cancer.
These procedures are also done using a camera and instruments inserted through small incisions (laparoscopic surgery).
Image thanks to Austin Samaritans, via Wikimedia Commons
If you are not healthy enough for surgery or if you have other medical problems increasing the risks of surgery radiation therapy is an option your doctor may consider.
High energy radiation beams can be directed at the cancerous tissue to kill or shrink the tumor. Many kidney cancers are not sensitive to radiation but this treatment can help to reduce symptoms when surgery is too dangerous and other treatments have not been helpful.
If your cancer has spread beyond one localized area chemotherapy may be helpful because it spreads throughout your body. Specialized anti-cancer drugs are given orally or by IV infusion to treat cancer wherever it may be within your body.
These anti-cancer drugs can be helpful for killing cancer cells but they can also have severe side effect including hair loss, increased risk of infections, mouth sores, and nausea and vomiting.
A new type of chemotherapy called targeted therapy using drugs that slow down or stop the way that cancer cells grow. These new drugs have less effect on other parts of your body and much less severe side effects.
Quick and accurate diagnosis of the problem along with effective treatment is the key to kidney cancer treatment.
It all begins with you.
If you think you may be having symptoms of kidney disease make an appointment with your doctor. He can order a few blood tests, a urinalysis, and any other studies that he needs to understand your symptoms.