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Kidney Cancer

Four years ago, Linea had a routine ultrasound to assess her pregnancy. She had no idea that the test could diagnose kidney cancer.

The doctor also asked her if she was aware of tumors on both her kidneys, and she said no. She felt no pain and no symptoms, so it completely surprised her.

She left the appointment with an X-ray scanner, scheduled that afternoon. Sadly, other tests confirmed that she had kidney cancer and needed to follow her kidney cancer treatment.

The ultrasound went smoothly, but the technician continued to look at something on the screen in a disturbing way. When she asked a doctor to come in, Linea knew there was something wrong. She thought it was related to pregnancy, and unfortunately, it did happen. The doctor informed her that the pregnancy had not progressed and that a miscarriage had occurred.

10 (1)
Young adult female cancer patient spending time with her daughter at home, relaxing on the couch. Cancer and family support concept.

The whole experience was unrealistic. She got two heartbreaking and devastating pieces of information, and it was a lot to process. Linea knew she had to make decisions regarding her care, but it took some time to process everything that was going on.

She had tumors in both her kidneys as big as a grapefruit.

Her first surgery was in July of the same year and her second surgery was in August.That was the longest hospital stay and She missed her daughter too.

About one year after her surgery, She began to think about having another child. However, Linea wasn’t sure whether it would be safe. She was an older parent and had one less kidney. Linea was also concerned that pregnancy hormones could trigger cancer recurrence or that her body would not tolerate pregnancy. She was very happy when Dr. Chiru made her feel comfortable.

“No need to worry,” he said.

It was a couple of years ago. Her two wonderful girls are now 6 and 2 years old. They love backpacking and cycling. One of her girls plays soccer, another plays softball, and She loves helping their team. Linea doesn’t have cancer anymore.

It’s just a matter of identifying cancer early and treating it properly with specialized doctors.

This article will help you through all the details of kidney cancer, the types of kidney cancer, the symptoms of kidney cancer, and the success rate of kidney cancer treatment.

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What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer occurs within the cells of your kidneys. Your kidneys are two bean bag-like organs, each the size of your fist.

They are located behind your abdominal organs, with a kidney on either side of your spinal column.

types of kidney cancer

Types of kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is more common with adults and accounts for approximately 85% of diagnoses. This kind of cancer develops in the proximal renal tubules which constitute the filtration system of the kidney. Each kidney has thousands of those tiny filtration units. Options for the treatment of kidney carcinoma are discussed later in this article.

Kidney Cancer types

  • Urothelial cancer

This is also referred to as transient cellular carcinoma. It makes up 5-10% of kidney cancers diagnosed in adults. Urothelial carcinoma starts in the region of the kidney where urine gets collected. 

  • Sarcoma

Kidney sarcoma is a rare condition. It is normally treated by surgery. However, sarcoma usually returns to the renal area or propagates to other parts of the body. Another surgical procedure or chemotherapy may be recommended following the initial surgery.

  • Wilms tumor

Wilms tumor is better treated with radiation and chemo than other types of kidney cancer in conjunction with surgery. The outcome was a different approach to treatment.

  • Lymphoma

Lymphoma can enlarge both kidneys and is associated with large lymph nodes, known as lymph node disease, in other parts of the body, including the neck, chest, and abdominal cavity. If lymphoma is a possibility, your physician can do a biopsy and suggest chemo instead of surgery.


Indications and symptoms of kidney cancer

Early renal cancers usually cause no signs or symptoms, but larger ones can. Potential signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Back pain on one side
  • A lump on the side or bottom of the back.
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Weight loss
  • Fever is not due to infection and does not go away.
  • Anaemia

Stages of kidney cancer

stages of Kidney-cancer

Stage 1 is the lowest level of aggression and has the highest survival rate. The cancer tumor is relatively small at the early stage, so it is given a T1 designation.  

At stage 1, the cancerous kidney will likely be removed, and follow-up treatment may not be needed. The odds of recovery are good.

Stage 2 is more severe than Stage 1. At this stage, the tumor is larger than 7 centimeters in diameter, but occurs only in the kidney.

Stage IIB: The tumor will be present only in the prostate, and it can be large enough to analyze during a DRE. The level of PSA will be medium. The cancer cells will be differentiated moderately.

Stage IIC: The tumor can be large enough to analyze during a DRE. The level of PSA is medium. The cancer cells can be poorly differentiated.

There are two scenarios for third-stage renal cancer.

 In the first scenario, the tumor became a major vein and a neighboring tissue but did not reach the neighboring lymph nodes.

 In the second scenario, the tumor may be of any size and may occur outside the kidney. In this case, the cancer cells also invaded the adjacent lymph nodes but did not proceed further.

It can also be divided into two categories.

In the first, the tumor enlarged and reached the tissue beyond the kidney. It may have propagated to nearby lymph nodes, but it still has no metastases.

In the second, the tumor may be of any size, maybe in the lymph nodes, and has metastasized to other organs

kidney cancer risk factors


What causes kidney cancer?

The following factors have the potential to increase the risk of kidney cancer:

  • Old age
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure treatment
  • Some hereditary syndromes.
  • Family history of kidney cancer.


How to diagnose kidney cancer?

The real diagnosis of kidney cancer is done by examining a sample of kidney cells in the laboratory or sometimes by the way the kidney looks on an imaging test. If you suspect you may have signs or symptoms of kidney cancer, consult your doctor.

If you have any signs/symptoms that indicate you may have kidney cancer, your doctor will want to take your comprehensive medical record to check the risk factors.

Laboratory tests cannot show for certain whether a person has kidney cancer, but they can sometimes give the first indication that there may be a kidney problem. If cancer has already been diagnosed, it is also done to get an idea of an individual’s general health and to help determine whether the cancer was able to spread to other areas. They can also help show if a person is in good enough health to have surgery.

This urinalysis test can be done if your doctor suspects kidney disease.

Computed tomography uses X-rays to make detailed cross-section images of your body. It can provide accurate information on the size, form, and location of a tumor. It is also useful for checking whether cancer has spread to neighboring lymph nodes and tissues outside the kidney.

MRI scans can be performed when a person cannot have CT contrast dye because they are allergic to it or have poor renal function. MRI scans may also be performed if there is a chance that cancer has become a major blood vessel in the abdomen.

Finally, they can be used to examine abnormal regions of the brain and spinal cord which may be due to the spread of cancer.

Ultrasound will help find kidney mass and show whether it is solid or fluidic. Different ultrasound models may also help doctors differentiate between certain types of benign and malignant kidney tumors.

Angiography is an X-ray examination of the blood vessels. In a traditional angiogram, a contrast dye is injected into the kidney artery, and the dye describes the blood vessels. Radiographs can map blood vessels that feed a kidney tumor.

This test can help schedule surgery for certain patients. Angiography can also help diagnose kidney cancers as blood vessels generally have a special appearance with this test.

Today, angiography is performed through a computed tomography or MRI scan, instead of a separate X-ray test. This means that less contrast coloring is used because it could damage kidney function.

An x-ray can be taken after the diagnosis of kidney cancer to determine whether cancer has spread to the lungs. Usually, a thoracic CT is performed because it can see abnormal areas better.

A bone scan can be used to determine if cancer has spread to your bones. A small quantity of low-level radioactive material is injected into the blood and accumulates primarily in abnormal areas of the bones.

It could be done if there are grounds to believe that cancer may have spread to bones such as bone pain or increased calcium levels.

In contrast to most other types of cancer, biopsies are sometimes not required to find kidney tumors. In some cases, imaging tests may provide enough information for a surgeon to decide whether surgery is needed. The diagnosis is then confirmed when part of the kidney collected is examined in the laboratory.

Kidney cancer treatment

Kidney cancer treatment you need to think about

Surgery involves removing the tumor and some of the surrounding healthy tissue during surgery. If cancer did not extend beyond the kidneys, surgery to remove the tumor may be the only treatment required. Surgery to remove the tumor can mean removing some or all of the kidney, as well as possibly surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.

The types of surgery that are used for kidney cancer include:

Radical nephrectomy

Surgery for the removal of the tumor, the whole kidney, and the surrounding tissue is called a radical nephrectomy. If the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes are also affected by the disease, radical nephrectomy and lymph node dissection are performed. When a lymph node dissection is performed, the lymph nodes affected by the cancer are removed.

Doctor’s advice on radical nephrectomy

A radical nephrectomy is typically recommended for treating a large tumor when there is not a lot of healthy tissue remaining. Sometimes the renal tumor develops right inside the renal vein and enters the vena cava on its way to the heart. In this case, complicated cardiovascular surgery techniques are needed.

Partial nephrectomy

A partial nephrectomy is a surgery to remove the tumor. This type of surgery protects kidney function and reduces the risk of developing chronic kidney disease following surgery.

Robotic and Laparoscopic surgery

During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon does several small cuts in the abdomen, rather than the largest cut used during a conventional surgical procedure. The surgeon then inserts telescopic equipment into these small incisions to completely remove the kidney or carry out a partial nephrectomy. Sometimes the surgeon can use robotic tools to carry out the surgery.

Doctor’s advice on Robotic and Laparoscopic surgery

This can take longer, but it can be less painful. It is important that you discuss the potential benefits and risks of surgical procedures with your surgeon and to be certain that the team has experience with the procedure.

Surgery may not be recommended due to tumor characteristics or the patient’s overall health. Each patient should have a thorough conversation with their physician about their diagnosis and risk factors to see if these treatments are suitable and safe for them. These procedures can be recommended:

Radiofrequency ablation

RF removal is the use of a needle inserted in the tumor to destroy cancer with an electric current.

Doctor’s advice on Radiofrequency ablation

In the past, RFA was only used for persons who were too ill to have surgery.


Cryoablation is the freezing of cancerous cells using a metallic probe inserted by a small incision. The metallic sensor is placed in the cancerous tissue. A CT and ultrasonic scan will guide the probe.

Systemic therapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. This type of medication is administered orally or directly through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body.

Kidney cancer treatments include:

  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemo

Each of these types of treatments is discussed at greater length below. They may also be administered as part of a treatment plan that involves surgery or radiotherapy.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a therapy that targets specific cancer genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to the growth and survival of cancer. This type of therapy inhibits the growth and spread of cancer cells and limits damage to healthy cells.


Immunotherapy, or biological therapy, is designed to stimulate the body’s natural defences against cancer. It uses materials made by the body or in the lab to improve, target, or restore the function of the immune system.

Immunotherapy side effects

Different types of immune therapy may cause different side effects. Skin reactions, symptoms similar to flu, diarrhoea, and weight changes are common side effects


Chemotherapy is the use of medications to kill cancer cells, usually by preventing cancer cells from growing, splitting, and producing more cells.

A chemotherapy regime, or schedule, generally consists of several specific cycles over a given period. A patient can receive one medication at a time or a combination of different medications administered simultaneously.

Chemotherapy side effects

Chemotherapy side effects include fatigue, infection risk, nausea and vomiting, loss of hair, appetite loss, and diarrhea. These side effects generally disappear after kidney cancer treatment is completed.

Radiation therapy

Radiotherapy consists of using high-energy X-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells.

Radiotherapy is not effective as the primary treatment for renal cancer. It is not often used to treat kidney cancer because of the damage it causes to the kidney in good health. 

Radiotherapy is used only if a patient cannot undergo surgery and, even then, usually only in areas where cancer has spread and not on the primary renal tumor. In most cases, radiotherapy is used when cancer has spread. It is made to help relieve symptoms, such as bone pain or swelling of the brain.

Kidney Cancer treatment cost in India

What is the cost of Kidney Cancer treatment in India?

The cost of kidney cancer care in India is far less than is expected in any other developing country of the industrialized world.

The cost of renal cancer care in India is expected to be at least 60 to 70 percent lower than it costs in western nations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

The estimated cost of treatment for kidney cancer in India is approximately $3,000-$4,000.

Factors that influence the cost of kidney cancer treatment in India include the chosen hospital, physician experience, housing, post-operative care, etc.

Treatment cost
prostate cancer survival rate

Success Rate

What is the survival rate of kidney cancer treatment in India?

Stage 1 survival rate

The five-year survival rate for stage one kidney cancer is 81 percent. This means that out of 100 people, 81 people diagnosed with stage 1 kidney cancer are still living five years after their initial diagnosis.

Stage 2 survival rate

As with stage 1, a stage 2 cancer, kidney is likely to be removed and follow-up treatment may not be required. The five-year survival rate of stage 2 kidney cancer is 74 percent. This means that 74 out of 100 people diagnosed with stage 2 kidney cancer are alive five years after diagnosis.

Stage 3 survival rate

In both cases, the therapy will be aggressive. If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, they can be removed surgically. The five-year survival rate for stage 3 renal cancer is 53 percent. This means that 53 of every 100 people diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer will live another five years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 4 survival rate

The five-year survival rate at this point drops to eight percent. This means that 8 out of 100 people diagnosed with stage 4 cancer will live another 5 years after they are diagnosed.

Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:

1. What is the latest treatment for kidney cancer?

For patients who have the most common type of kidney cancer, a new use of the targeted treatment for cabozantinib

2. Can kidney tumors be removed?

 Most kidney tumors and kidney cancer are curable through surgery. Surgery is about removing the entire tumor in the safest way for every patient and can be accomplished via a variety of approaches such as open incision, laparoscopic surgery or robotic surgery.

3. How long is recovery after kidney removal?

Recovery from kidney ablation, most often takes between 3 and 6 weeks. You can have some of these symptoms: Pain in your stomach or on the side where you had the kidney removed. The pain should improve within several days to a week.

4. Does tumor size determine stage?

Tumor size is highly dependent on prognosis (probability of survival). The smaller the tumor, the more likely the prognosis is to be good.


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