There are about 62,000 new cases of kidney cancer in the United States annually. Most cases are in middle-aged and older adults.
Kidney cancer is one of the top 10 cancers and rates are rising. However, there is considerably less awareness of kidney cancer than other, higher-profile disease.
Early detection makes all the difference and is as simple as providing as urine specimen. However, about half of cases are discovered by “accident” when a patient is having a CT scan for another medical issue.
The kidneys are organs that filter excess water salt and waste in the blood and turn this waste into urine. Kidneys also play a role in controlling blood pressure and ensuring the body produces enough red blood cells.
According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of diagnosis is 64 and the condition is very uncommon in people younger than 45.
Men are at a higher risk than women. African-Americans have a higher incidence of kidney cancer than Caucasians. Obesity, smoking and some workplace exposures are also risk factors. Research suggests that metabolic syndrome, which is tied to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, is also a factor in kidney cancer.
Genetic conditions like hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma can lead to kidney cancer. Kidney failure and having had a kidney transplant may additionally increase a person’s risk.
Kidney cancer is one of the few types of cancer that’s increasing in incidence.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer.
In early stages, it is very treatable with surgery alone. Surgery can involve a part of the kidney or the entire organ. Even if a whole kidney is removed, otherwise healthy people can go about their lives as usual after surgery.
While surgery is the treatment of choice, patients need other therapies if kidney cancer spreads. Targeted treatments for kidney cancer are less toxic and more effective than immunotherapy such as interferon and interleukin drugs.