Your kidneys play a very important role when it comes to regulating electrolytes, removing waste from your body, helping control your blood pressure and more. While the importance of your kidneys is easy to see, kidney cancer isn’t—it can easily be missed in its early stages. In fact, kidney cancer has often already spread by the time it is diagnosed. Men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with kidney cancer as women, and it’s commonly diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70. Since kidney cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms when it initially develops, it’s important to be aware of the signs and stay up to date with routine health checkups. Let your doctor know if you develop new symptoms, no matter how mild they may seem.
Common warning signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- A mass on your side or lower back
- Loss of appetite
- Lower back pain
- Fever that doesn’t go away
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swelling of your feet or ankles
While a variety of other, less serious conditions can cause these symptoms, it’s important to let your urologist know about them as soon as possible. They will likely run some tests to rule out kidney cancer and get to the root of the problem. Physical exams, blood tests, urine tests and imaging tests are commonly used to diagnose kidney cancer. It can often be diagnosed without performing a biopsy by using imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI scan and ultrasound.
When it’s detected in the early stages, a variety of treatment options are available. Your doctor will be able to discuss your options with you and come up with a treatment plan to meet your unique needs. While surgery to remove part or all of the kidney is standard, you may be surprised to learn that it is possible to live with only part of a working kidney. If both kidneys need to be removed, dialysis or a kidney transplant will be necessary. If surgery isn’t possible, other treatment options include arterial embolization to shrink the tumor, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
At Arkansas Urology, we’re here for you. Our patients’ health has been and will always be our top priority! Do you need to schedule an appointment? Contact us today or book your appointment online.