Kidneys are a pair of essential organs which are located in the abdominal cavity and are responsible for filtering out excessive fluids and wastes from the bloodstream. Besides playing a crucial role in the maintenance of the balance of fluids, pH levels, and electrolytes in the body, they also regulate blood pressure. In addition to these functions, they produce hormones which stimulate the production of red blood cells (RBCs). If the kidneys don’t function properly, harmful toxins can get accumulated in the body, thereby resulting in severe health complications like high blood pressure and kidney diseases.
Kidney cancer, also called renal cancer, is another disease which occurs when the kidney cells grow uncontrollably, ultimately resulting in the formation of a tumour. The central cause of this disease is unknown, however, the risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, and genetic factors raise the probability of developing this disease. It is, therefore, necessary to look out for the symptoms and signs of kidney cancer for early diagnosis. Read on to know more about such symptoms and how you can deal with them.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
Blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, is one of the most common signs of kidney cancer. In addition to this, several other symptoms of this disease may include the following:
- Night sweats
- Lower back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lump on the lower back or the side
- Swelling of the testicles
- Swelling of the ankles or legs
- High blood pressure
- Unexplained and frequent fevers
The symptoms of kidney cancer are the same among men and women, both. These symptoms may be indicative of kidney cancer, however, they could also be a sign of lesser serious health related conditions. Besides, certain patients of kidney cancer may not experience any of these symptoms at all, whereas, others may experience different ones entirely.
An imaging study or a laboratory test may reveal a probable diagnosis of kidney cancer before their symptoms become noticeable.
Early Signs of Kidney Cancer
Let’s take an example. During a routine urine test, you may find certain traces of blood which are generally invisible to the naked eye. Symptoms of this disease may, therefore, be detected during a CT (computed tomography) scan. This scan comprises X-rays which are taken at various angles and are processed by a computer into three dimensional images. This testing may depict a growth in the kidney cells, and may even show a non-cancerous cyst if the dye gets injected into the vein beforehand.
MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is a test which generates detailed images of the kidneys with the help of magnetic fields and a computer device instead of X-rays. A dye, also known as gadolinium, can be utilised to raise the visibility of the tumour during an MRI.
An ultrasound is done to then look for signs of a kidney tumour to determine whether that solid mass is a tumour. If the testing reveals any kind of concerning factor, they summon a biopsy in which a tissue sample of the kidney is taken to examine it.
However, the diagnosis and treatment procedures of kidney cancer can prove to be financially draining. It is, therefore, advisable to get yourself insured with health insurance. You can also avail of tax benefits on medical insurance, ultimately saving significantly on your treatment expenses. With the right treatment, ongoing monitoring, and smart financial decisions, you can maintain your overall health and wellbeing.
Black/White Spots on Kidney: What is it?
The probable significance of dark or light spots on the kidneys depend widely on the imaging technique used. During an MRI or a CT scan, a dark or light spot on the kidneys are indicative of cancer. The dye used during these scans get accumulated, thereby appearing as a bright spot on those parts of the kidneys which may have cancer. On the other hand, in some cases, the dye may get blocked from getting to a few portions of the kidney. These areas may, therefore, be visible as dark spots.
This technique aids in the differentiation between cysts and tumours since the dye only builds up in a tumour, and does not get collected in a cyst.
The implications of white and black spots during an ultrasound vary since this technique reveals their densities through sound waves. Generally, the kidney tumours are solid, which implies that the kidney cancer will appear as a light spot on the image. This is so because when the number of solid structures are more, the sound waves bounce off more. The cysts of the kidneys appear as black spots in this case since the sound waves do not bounce back and simply pass through.
However, the inferences from the imaging tests alone may not prove to be sufficient for a definitive diagnosis. After the testing procedures are complete, the patients must undergo the treatment plans depending on their diagnosis and the stage of the cancer.
Treatment of Kidney Cancer
The treatment of kidney cancer is dependent on several factors such as the location and the stage of the tumour. It also gets influenced by the overall health of the patient and the presence of any underlying medical conditions. Surgery is generally the first step of treatment, and its extent is based on its size and location. In certain cases, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used to facilitate the shrinkage of the tumour before its surgery. Targeted therapies which focus on specific molecules which are involved in the growth of cancer are also used. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, is a relatively newer treatment procedure which aids the immune system of the patients to fight the cancer. A multidisciplinary approach which involves a team of specialists is also used for the determination of the most effective treatment plan for every patient.
Kidney cancer is a very serious disease which demands prompt diagnosis and treatment. Certain lifestyle changes such as limiting the consumption of alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing high blood pressure can help reduce the risks of this disease. Early detection is key and so are regular health check-ups and screening tests.
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