Dr Shikhar Kumar Explains Kidney Cancer

by Dr Shikhar Kumar
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Dr Shikhar Kumar is Consultant Medical Oncologist at Onco Cancer Care Centre, Hyderabad. 

Around 18,000 Indians are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. As in many other types of cancer, the exact cause of kidney cancer is not known. This makes it more difficult to predict or prevent. 

Kidney cancer, also called renal cell carcinoma, starts in your kidney; the bean shaped organs located behind the organs of your abdomen. The kidneys are located one on each side of your spine. 

Know the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Most patients of kidney cancer have one or more of these symptoms when diagnosed:

  • Blood in urine
  • Pain in lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Low blood count

To diagnose kidney cancer is most likely to ask you to undergo an ultrasound or a contrast CT scan. After this, a biopsy will have to be done to confirm kidney cancer. 

Treatment of Kidney Cancer

Once the biopsy and scans are done, the stage and the type of the kidney cancer are confirmed. This information is important for planning the treatment. 

For early stage kidney cancer (Stage I and Stage II), surgery is the first option that is considered. Unless there are reasons why the patient cannot undergo surgery, surgery becomes the first modality of treatment.

In advanced stages of kidney cancer, systemic therapy is given.Sometimes, the affected kidney is also surgically removed in certain situations. Now, unlike other cancers, kidney cancer doesn’t respond well to traditional chemotherapy drugs. Targeted therapy drugs like Sunitinib, Pazopanib etc have shown good results against kidney cancer in the past. Studies have demonstrated that these medicines are able to control the disease for an average duration of 9-10 months. In recent times however, immunotherapy has drastically improved the outcomes of patients with advanced kidney cancer. Newer studies that have combined immunotherapy drugs with targeted medicines have shown this combination to control the disease for much longer with an average duration of disease control of approximately 18-24 months. More patients are able to live longer with their disease thanks to these advances.

You can read about kidney sparing surgery here.

Want to know the right diet to follow during kidney cancer treatment? Read our diet tips here.

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