Medical Column: Cancers of the Bladder and Kidneys

By: Dr. Hyder Naqvi
Family Medicine Resident
Colquitt Regional Medical Center

Renal Cell Carcinoma is a cancer, which originates from the outermost layer of the kidney and is the most common type of kidney cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 76,000 new cases and approximately 14,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year from this kind of cancer. Although there may be cancers that are more common in this country such as lung cancer or breast cancer, the number of reported cases of renal cell carcinoma has been growing over the last 25 years and it is a topic worth learning about.

Similarly, to lung cancer, smoking is a risk factor for renal cell carcinoma, and in fact, smoking tobacco doubles chance of developing kidney cancer But there are other risk factors including gender( men are 2-3 times more likely to develop kidney cancer than women), blood pressure( men with high blood pressure are more likely to develop kidney cancer), race(African Americans have higher rates of this cancer), Age( typically diagnosed between ages of 50 and 70), body weight( the incidence is higher among patients who are obese), and exposures( there is evidence that occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos and cadmium which is found in some batteries and paints) increased a person risk as well. So, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your Family Physician may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

While it is not currently recommended that we screen all patients for this type of cancer, individuals who have a strong family history for renal cell carcinoma may benefit from screening imaging studies such as an Abdominal CT scan, an abdominal Ultrasound, or a MRI of the abdomen.

While in its earliest stages, kidney cancers have few symptoms, later stage symptoms may include blood in the urine, abdominal or flank pain, a lump or mass in the flank or side, swelling of the ankles or legs, a rise in blood pressure, fatigue, weight loss, and fever, just to name a few.

Researchers continue looking into what factors cause kidney cancer, including ways to prevent it. Although there is no proven way to completely prevent kidney cancer, you may be able to lower your risk by, quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure, maintaining a healthy body weight and talking with your Family physician about identifying your risk factors and screening if indicated.

Like most types of cancer, the treatment and possible cure for kidney cancer depends in large on how early it is detected. If you are concerned about any changes to your experience, please talk to your Family Physician as soon as possible as you may be a candidate for further testing that could lead to an earlier diagnosis.