Kidney Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Stages and Treatment

It is a malignant mutation in the cells of the kidney, which grow out of control forming one or several tumors.

Cancer tumors usually grow in the lining of the kidney tubules for the first time and are called ” renal cell carcinoma .”

If diagnosed early, the disease can be treated before the cancer spreads through the organs near the kidney, thus preventing metastasis.

Without due routine annual check-up, these tumors can form to a prominent size without being detected before the affected person presents the symptoms.

The two kidneys that the human being possesses tend to have the size of a fist and their physiognomy is similar to a bean and they are in the lower part of the abdomen on each side of the spine.

Its main job is to clean the blood and expel fluids with waste from the body through urine.


Among the factors that can cause kidney cancer are:

Excessive smoking: this causes the kidneys to grow twice their size and are more prone to a mutation in the cells.

Obesity: overweight can cause drastic changes in hormones, which increases the risk of kidney cancer.

Renal diseases: undergoing dialysis for prolonged periods may contribute to the development of cancer in the kidneys.

Analgesic ingestion: certain drugs deteriorate some organs of the body when they are used for a long time, one of the most affected are the kidneys, this includes free and prescription sales medicines.

Genetic affections: some malformations in the genes can affect the development or functioning of the kidneys increasing the chances of a malignant mutation in the cells.

History of kidney cancer in the family: this can increase the risk of suffering from this disease especially when it is in siblings.

Exposure to chemicals: some products such as solvents, herbicides, among others, can affect the body’s cells.

High blood pressure: treatment medications for this condition may increase the risk of kidney cancer.

Among the studies of this disease, it has been detected that men tend to suffer more frequently from cancer in the kidneys.

What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

As the tumor or tumors grow, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Abnormal lump in the abdomen or side.
  • Persistent and prolonged fever without presenting infection.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Pain in the sides.
  • Anemia.
  • Weightloss.
  • Inflammation in the ankles.

If the disease is not detected early and a metastasis occurs, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Cough with sacred
  • Pain in the body or bones.
  • Short of breath.
  • Abdominal inflammation


To detect the disease, several medical tests should be performed, so it is always advisable to go periodically to routine examinations and be alert to any symptoms that the body is externalizing physically such as pain in the sides, extreme fatigue or weight loss.

Urine tests verify the presence of blood among other findings that support the diagnosis.

Blood tests show how well the kidneys work.

An x-ray of the kidneys or intravenous pyelography discards any tumor.

Ultrasound uses waves to create an image of the kidneys. It can help determine if a tumor is solid or full of fluid.

A CT scan uses x-rays to detail the kidneys and detect abnormalities.

A renal arteriogram can be used to evaluate the blood supply to the tumor. It is not administered frequently, but it can help diagnose small tumors.

Unlike other cancers, treating physicians can be sure of the diagnosis of kidney cancer without a biopsy.

What are the stages of kidney cancer?

First stage:

  • Tumor of 7 centimeters or less in the kidney.

Second stage:

  • Tumor of more than 7 centimeters in the kidney.

Third Stage:

  • Tumor in the kidney and in a nearby lymph node.
  • Tumor in the main blood vessel of the kidney and in the nearest lymph node.
  • Tumor in the adipose tissue around the kidney, affecting the lymph nodes.
  • Tumor that extends to the main veins or perirenal tissues.

Fourth Stage:

  • Cancer spread beyond the fatty layer of tissue surrounding the kidney and in the lymph nodes.
  • The cancer may have spread to other organs, such as the intestine, pancreas, or lungs.


Once you have a diagnosis and know your stage of kidney cancer, you and your doctor can plan the treatment.

You may want to gather information to help you feel more informed about your decision. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist for treatment. This could include a urologist, a medical or radiation oncologist, or a surgeon.

Before starting treatment, many people find it helpful to get a second opinion about the diagnosis of kidney cancer and the treatment plan.

Kidney cancer is one of the most common cancers that undergo spontaneous remission. However, the incidence is quite low (approximately 0.5%).

There are several standard types of treatment for kidney cancer. In most cases, surgery is the first step. However, even if the surgery removes the entire tumor, your doctor may suggest additional treatment to remove the remaining cancer cells that can not be seen.

Surgery for kidney cancer:

These are the main types of surgery for kidney cancer. The type you have depends on how advanced your cancer is:

  • Radical nephrectomy:  removes the kidney, adrenal gland and surrounding tissue. It also often removes nearby lymph nodes. It is the most common surgery for kidney cancer and can now be done through a small incision with a laparoscope.
  • Simple nephrectomy:  removes the kidney only.
  • Partial nephrectomy:  eliminates kidney cancer along with some surrounding tissues. This procedure is used in patients with smaller tumors (less than 4 cm) or in those patients in whom a radical nephrectomy can damage the other kidney.

You can survive with only one part of a kidney as long as it continues to function. If the surgeon removes both kidneys or if both kidneys do not work, you will need a machine to clean your blood ( dialysis ) or a new kidney (kidney transplant).

A transplant is possible if your cancer was found only in your kidney and there is a donated kidney available.

If surgery can not eliminate kidney cancer, your doctor may suggest another option to help destroy the tumor.

  • Cryotherapy:  uses extreme cold to kill the tumor.
  • Radiofrequency ablation:  uses high-energy radio waves to “cook” the tumor.
  • Arterial embolization:  involves inserting material into an artery that leads to the kidney. This blocks the flow of blood to the tumor. This procedure can be done to help reduce the size of the tumor before surgery.