Each year in the United States, about 51,000 adults will be diagnosed with kidney cancer. As with so many serious diseases, the earlier kidney cancer is found, the better the outcome. Kidney cancer can often be cured if found and treated before it has spread.
According to new research published in the National Kidney Foundation's American Journal of Kidney Disease, the optimal treatment carefully removes cancerous portions of the kidney, as opposed to the entire kidney. This can preserve kidney function and ultimately save lives, but unfortunately many physicians and patients remain unaware of its benefits.
Like most cancers, kidney cancer treatment depends on the stage of the disease, size, the patient's general health, age and other factors. Kidney cancer is usually treated with a combination of radiation therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and nephrectomy. A nephrectomy surgically removes all or part of the kidney, and there are two different types of nephrectomies performed.
- A "radical nephrectomy" removes the entire kidney and its surrounding tissue.
When used to treat small kidney tumors, radical nephrectomy -- the more aggressive procedure -- has been shown to increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular complications, while partial nephrectomy has less risk of progressive kidney disease and has equal cancer free survival. In this new study, researchers found that despite the risks, a majority of kidney cancer patients, even those already diagnosed with chronic kidney disease who were at increased risk for kidney failure, underwent radical nephrectomies.
With some knowledge, you have the power to save your kidneys. Learn the top five kidney cancer facts from the National Kidney Foundation:
- The Types: There are two main types of kidney cancer: renal cell cancer and transitional cell cancer. The most common type of adult kidney cancer is renal cell cancer, which begins in the lining of the renal tubules -- tiny tubes in the kidney that clean the blood and make urine. Renal cell cancer may metastasize, which means it may spread to other parts of the body, most often the bones or lungs. About 30 percent of those who are diagnosed with renal cell cancer develop advanced (metastatic) disease.
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