March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. With more than 70,000 new cases diagnosed each year, this type of cancer sits among the top 10 of all cancers in the United States. It is more likely to occur in men and most likely to develop later in life. These facts are just the tip of the iceberg of understanding the risks and options related to kidney tumors.
What Causes Kidney Tumors?
Studies have not found a single conclusive factor that causes kidney tumors. What they have identified are a few factors shared among diagnosed cases. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Obesity and poor eating habits
- Exposure to chlorinated chemicals
Symptoms of a Kidney Mass
During the early stages of growth, a kidney mass is not likely to cause obvious symptoms. At some point, the following may develop:
- Blood in the urine
- Persistent pain on one side of the low back that is not related to an injury
- Side pain between the ribs and hips
- Low red blood cell count
- Persistent fever unrelated to infection
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
Diagnosing and Treating Kidney Masses
Kidney tumors are often discovered by accident. A doctor may feel or see the mass during an exam for another health complaint. When a mass is discovered, it is time to consult with a board-certified urologist. This specialist conducts a comprehensive medical history and examination and may order blood tests and imaging tests to accurately diagnose the tumor. Treatment for a kidney tumor is based on the stage and grade of the mass, with the goal being to eradicate cancerous cells as conservatively as possible.
Surgery is avoided when possible. Generally, treatment options include:
- Active surveillance of the tumor, which involves periodic measurements that track growth. Surveillance may be appropriate for tumors up to 3 cm.
- Ablation, which applied heat or cold to destroy the tumor.
- Partial nephrectomy, which removes part of the kidney.
- Radical nephrectomy, which removes the entire kidney.
Kidney cancer awareness is essential for early detection and treatment. With four convenient locations, we proudly serve Rancho Mirage, Palm Spring, La Quinta, and surrounding areas. Contact us at (760) 346-1133 for more information or to schedule a visit.