The abnormal growth of cells in the kidney tissue causes kidney cancer. These cells go on to form a mass called tumour. To understand the importance of kidneys, it is important to have a look at the functions that they perform and their structure.
Kidneys are the shape of a bean located below the ribcage and close to the middle of your back. Its size is about that of your fist and we have two kidneys on each side of the spine. Kidneys perform the functions of maintaining fluid balance, removing waste products, controlling blood pressure and produce the hormones that make the bones strong.
Kidney cancer begins when a change is triggered in the cells, and they divide out of control. One can understand kidney cancers better by knowing about their types:
- Renal cell carcinoma – 85 percent of all cases of kidney cancers in adults fall in this category. In this form of kidney cancer, a tumour develops in one of the kidneys, but often spreads to the other kidney. There are small tubes in the kidneys which are covered by cells. Renal cell carcinoma begins in these cells first before spreading to other parts of the kidney and later on to other organs.
- Transitional cell carcinoma – This type of kidney cancer occurs in around 6 to 7 percent cases of the disease. It generally starts in the area where ureter and main part of the kidney is joined together. It is known as the renal pelvis. Transitional cell carcinoma can also begin in the ureters or the bladder.
- Renal sarcoma – This is the least common type of kidney cancer which is found only in around 1 percent of the cases of kidney cancer. It affects the kidney’s connective tissues and in the absence of prompt treatment, spreads to organs and bones that are situated close.
- Wilms’ Tumour – This is the kidney cancer that occurs in children. Nearly 5 percent of kidney cancer cases are those of Wilms’ Tumour.
Some common symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Blood in the urine (known as hematuria).
- Loss of weight due to reduced appetite.
- Pain in the bones.
- Unusual high blood pressure.
Kidney cancer has four stages with varying survival rates. In the first stage, the tumour size is less than 7 cm in dimension and the patient’s survival rate is the highest, i.e. 95 percent. The tumour size keeps on increasing in the subsequent stages and the respective survival rates or the second, third and fourth stages are 88 percent, 50 percent and 20 percent.
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