By far the most diagnosed kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC accounts for approximately 90% of kidney cancer diagnoses. Though the tumors tend to be quite large, they rarely grow outside the kidney before other symptoms are developed leading to a fairly good prognosis.
The average age of someone diagnosed with kidney cancer is 64 years of age.
If kidney cancer is detected in the early staged the overall prognosis tends to be good.
About the kidneys
Most people have 2 kidneys, which are located just above the waistline on both the right and the left sides of the spinal column. In rare instances, people are born with just a single kidney. The kidneys are bean shaped organs the serve the purpose of filtering impurities from the blood. These impurities include waste from cells, and remove extra water, minerals and salts.
Every day the kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood and this generates approximately 2 quarts of urine daily.
The kidneys are also responsible for the production of certain hormones that control red blood cell production, blood pressure and other important functions within the body.
Key facts about the kidneys
- Kidneys make urine
- Kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood per day
- Drinking too much or too little water is bad for the kidneys
- Aspirin and ibuprofen could be bad for your kidneys
- Your kidneys are not symmetrical, your right kidney sits lower and is smaller that the left kidney to make room for the liver.
- You only need one of your kidneys to live a normal life
- Kidneys regulate the body’s salt and potassium levels
- Kidneys produce hormones needed for red blood cell creation
- Kidneys convert vitamin D into a usable “active” form that is usable by the body
- Each kidney contains approximately 1 million nephrons. A nephron is a tiny filter that is used to filter out impurities from the blood.
- approximately 25% of all the blood from the heart flows to the kidneys
- Kidneys are bean shaped
- Kidneys are approximately the size of our closed fist
- If you joined all the nephrons in your kidneys they would stretch 5 miles long end to end.
- Advanced age – As we age so does our risk of kidney cancer
- Diabetes – Being diabetic increases the risk of kidney cancer
- Smoking tobacco products – Smoking tobacco products carries a higher risk of kidney cancer over those who do not smoke tobacco products. The risk of kidney cancer tends to go down after quitting smoking cigarettes.
- History of kidney injury – those who have history of injury to the kidney are at greater risk of developing kidney cancer later in life.
- Prolonged use of painkillers – the prolonged use of painkillers (even over the counter) carries a greater risk of developing kidney cancer
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) – Having hypertension increases the incidence of kidney cancer.
- Kidney failure – those who are on dialysis for kidney failure are at greater risk for developing kidney cancer.
- Genetic factors – Those who are born with certain genetic traits could have a predisposition to kidney cancer. This includes but is not limited to von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, familial renal cancer, tuberous sclerosis complex or hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma.
- Exposure to cadium – Exposure to cadium could increase the risk of developing kidney cancer. Cadium is metal used in the manufacture of plastics, batteries and also used in other industrial applications
- Obesity – Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher could increase the risk of developing kidney cancer
- Exposure to asbestos – Exposure to asbestos could increase the incidence of kidney cancer. Though in the US and Europe asbestos products have primarily been done away with, in developing nations such as Mexico, India, Russia and China it is still widely used to make the following products; Adhesives, electrical components, felts, fireproof products, heat resistant gaskets, insulation, plastics, cement sheets, protective clothing, fire blankets, upholstery, flooring and wallpaper.
- Bad diet – see below for food items that could possibly contribute to the incidence of kidney cancer.
Symptoms of kidney cancer
The below signs could be signs of kidney cancer or even another type of cancer, however the symptoms below could also be indicative of other less severe conditions. As an example, blood in the urine is most typically cause by a bladder infection, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or even a kidney stone, over a more serious condition such as kidney cancer, Regardless if you experience any of these symptoms immediately see a doctor so he can rule out any more serious problems.
- Hematuria (blood in urine) – Blood in the urine is a key indicator of kidney cancer.
- Lump – A lump or mass on the lower back on either the left or right side or on the right or left side of the body under the rib cage and above the hip bone.
- Lower back pain – Lower back pain on the left or right side not due to obvious injury.
- Fatigue – feeling tired or run down for an extended period of time.
- Loss of appetite – A change in diet for an extended period of time where desire to eat is diminished.
- Weight loss – unexplained weight loss in a short period of time
- Persistent fever – A persistent fever without infection
- Anemia (low red blood cell count) – Having a low red blood cell count without obvious reason
- Swollen legs, ankles and feet – Having swelling of the lower extremities is a key indicator of kidney problems
- Blood test – blood tests could give doctor indication of cancer presence
- Urine test – urine test could give your doctor indication of cancer presence
- CT scan (computerized topography scan) – A CT scan combines a sequence of X-ray images taken from different vantage points of the kidney area and utilizes computer imaging technology to create cross-sectional slices of the body’s tissue. This includes, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels. This provides very detailed images of the kidney.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – A magnetic imaging device makes very detailed images of the body, including the kidney to determine the extent of cancer, if any.
- Biopsy – A piece of the tumor in the kidney is removed and sent to a laboratory to test for cancer cells. This is the only definitive way to test for kidney cancer.
Types of kidney cancer
- Renal cell carcinoma – Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer and accounts approximately 85% of all diagnosed cases. Renal cell carcinoma starts in the kidney’s filtration system. This filtration system is known as the proximal renal tubes. There are thousands of these tubes in each kidney.
- Urothelial carcinoma – Also known as transitional cell carcinoma, this type of cancer accounts for 5-10% of all kidney cancers diagnosed in adults. Urothelial carcinoma develops in the renal pelvis. The renal pelvis is where urine collects when being filtered from the blood before moving to the bladder.
- Sarcoma – Sarcoma of the kidney is a rare form of cancer accounting for about % of all kidney cancers diagnosed. Sarcoma of the kidney forms in the “capsule” of the kidney. The “capsule” of the kidney is a very thin layer of fat and soft tissue that encapsulates the kidney.
- Papillary – Papillary kidney cancer accounts for approximately 10-15% of kidney cancer diagnoses.
- Lymphoma – Lymphoma can cause both kidneys to become enlarged and is typically found in those lymphoma cases which also have enlarged lymph nodes. Though not common, kidney lymphoma can appear as a single tumor inside the kidney with enlarged lymph nodes.
- Wilms tumor – Also known as nephroblastoma, the Wilms tumor is a childhood kidney cancer. Wilms tumor accounts for about 90% of all kidney cancer diagnosed in children and 1% of all cancers diagnosed across all ages.
Kidney cancer staging
- T (primary Tumor) indicates the size of the primary tumor as well if it has grown into surrounding tissues
- N (Lymph Nodes) shows how far the cancer has spread to lymph nodes.
- M (Metastasis) denotes whether or not the cancer has metastasized to distant lymph nodes or other organs.
The staging of kidney cancer uses the TMN system. The TMN system refers to a method of staging cancer based on the size of the primary tumor, how far the cancer has spread to the lymphatic system as well as to other organs.
|TX||The primary tumor cannot be measured|
|T0||No primary tumor discovered|
|T1||Primary tumor is only in a single kidney and less than 7 cm in diameter|
|T2||Primary tumor is greater than or equal to 7 cm in diameter|
|T3||The primary tumor has invaded the a major vein and surrounding tissue|
|T4||The primary tumor has invaded tissue outside the kidney|
|NX||The tumor in the lymph nodes cannot be measured|
|N0||There is no evidence of cancer in the lymph nodes|
|N1||The cancer has spread to 1 – 3 axillary lymph nodes|
|N2||The cancer has spread to 4-9 axillary lymph nodes|
|N3||The cancer has spread to 10 or more axillary lymph nodes|
|MX||The spread of cancer cannot be measured|
|MO||The cancer has not spread to other organs|
|M1||The cancer has spread to other organs|
Kidney cancer is staged from stage I – stage IV. The purpose of staging cancer is to provide an overview of similar cancer cases in similar states of progression as a group. This helps to provide a prognosis for these grouped cases. As a rule of thumb, the lower the stage number, the better outlook for recovery.
Stage I kidney cancer
Stage 1 kidney cancer has the highest average 5 year survival rate of 81%. This means on average, for every 100 people diagnosed with stage I kidney cancer, 81 will still be alive 5 years after receiving their diagnosis.
As per the TMN system, the malignant tumor is less than 7 cm in the first stage and only appears in a single kidney and there is no indication that the cancer has spread to other organs or the lymph nodes.
Using the TMN system, Stage I kidney cancer would have the designation of T1 for “T” and then N0 for “N” and M0 for “M.” To explain T1 means that the primary tumor is less than 7 cm in diameter. M0 means there is no indication of metastasis of the cancer to other organs of the body. Finally N0 means there is no evidence of the cancer spreading to the lymph nodes.
Stage II kidney cancer
The TMN system suggests that stage II kidney cancer would have a designation of T2 for “T” and N0 for “N” and then M0 for “M.” This means that T2 indicates that the tumor is greater than or equal to 7 cm in diameter. M0 indicates there is no signs of metastasis of the cancer to other organs. And finally N0 states that there are no signs of the spreading to the lymph nodes.
Stage III kidney cancer
Stage 3 kidney cancer has an average 5 year survival of 53%. This means that, on average, out of 100 people diagnosed with stage II kidney cancer 53 are expected to still be alive in 5 years from the time time of diagnosis.
The TMN system states that there are 2 separate different scenarios for stage III kidney cancer.
Stage III kidney cancer scenario 1
According to the TMN system this first scenario of stage III kidney cancer would indicate T1, T2 or T3 for “T” and N1 for “N” and M0 for “M.” This means that T1-T3 indicates a tumor of any size that could be either contained inside the kidney or has expanded outside the kidney tissue and could have possibly grown into a major vien (but not necessarily). N1 indicates that the cancer has invaded at least 1 lymph node but not more than 4 lymph nodes in close proximity to the kidneys. M0 indicates that no other organs have been effected my the cancer.
Stage III kidney cancer scenario 2
As per the TMN system, this second scenario of stage III kidney cancer indicates T3 for “T” and N0 for “N” and M0 for “M.” T3 indicates the cancer has invaded a major vein and surrounding tissue. N0 means that there is no indication that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. M0 indicates that the cancer has not metastasized to other organs.
Stage IV kidney cancer
Stage IV kidney cancer has an average 5-year survival rate of 8%. This is very bad prognosis. This means that on average, out of every 100 people diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer, only 8 should be alive in 5 years.
Stage IV kidney cancer scenario 1
In the first scenario, the primary tumor has grown large enough to breach beyond the tissue of the kidney. The cancer may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes but still has not metastasized to other organs.
According to the TMN system, this first scenario of stage IV kidney cancer has T4 designation for “T” and a designation of N0, N1, N2 or N3 for “N” and an M0 for “M.” A T4 designation indicates that the primary tumor has grown beyond the tissue of the kidney. The designation of N0, N1, N2 or N3 indicate that the cancer may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes. Finally the designation of M0 indicates that the tumor has not metastasized to other organs.
Stage IV kidney cancer scenario 2
As per the TMN system, this second scenario of stage IV kidney cancer has a designation of T1, T2, T3 or TX for “T” and a N0, N1, N2 or N3 for “N” and an M1 for “M.” A designation of T1, T2, T3 or TX for “T” indicates that the primary tumor can be any size. A designation of N0, N1, N2, N3 or NX for “N” means that the cancer may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes. A designation of M1 for “M” indicates that the cancer has spread to at least 1 other organ in the body.
Kidney cancer by the numbers
Kidney cancer is a complex disease cannot be explained by the cold hard numbers. Furthermore, the numbers below indicate estimates coming from various trusted sources, however they cannot be taken as fact. Please consult your doctor or healthcare professional for more information.
Kidney cancer 5-year survival rates
Kidney cancer 5 year survival rates simply means how many people out of every 100 people diagnosed are expected to alive 5 years after their diagnosis. Many factors are taken into account including the stage of the cancer, the sub-type of cancer, the age of the patient, overall health of the patient, the sex of the patient and other health factors. This is not meant to be a definitive one size fits all, please speak to your doctor regarding 5 year survival rates for kidney cancer.
Average 5 year survival rate for all stages of kidney cancer
According to Medical News Today when averaged out among all stages and cancer sub-sets, kidney cancer has a 5 year survival rate of approximately 75%. This means that if you take 100 people diagnosed with all sub-sets of kidney cancer and all stages of kidney cancer you will have an average of 75 people alive after 5 years.
5 year survival rate of kidney cancer (stages I, II, III and IV)
5 year survival rate for kidney cancer (based on sex)
5 year survival rate for kidney cancer (based on age)
Kidney cancer age at diagnosis
Kidney cancer and diet
Since the kidneys perform a very unique set of roles, once of which is process proteins from the blood to to create urea, there is a definite link between very high protein diets and kidney cancer. Though protein is very needed by the rest of the body, the kidneys in particular are tasked with filtering protein from the body and as such are particularly sensitive to excess amounts of protein in the body. The same is true for salt and potassium.
- Whole grains
- Low saturated fats
- Too much protein
- Too much salt
- Too much potassium
- Processed meats
- Microwave popcorn
- Artificially “smoked” meats
Sausages contain extremely large amounts of preservatives and other chemical substances. Consumed even in small quantities, processed meats such as sausages could increase the risk of cancer. Modern sausages are a complex chemical product, only a small fraction of what we would call actual “meat”.
None of the key ingredients in the sausage can be considered natural, since they all undergo multi-stage and highly aggressive processing. Typical raw materials for the manufacture of even expensive sausages are the so-called animals with undergoing intensive “fattening.” These animals are kept in restricted conditions that barely allow them to move. Since such pigs and cows are practically immobile, their meat becomes extremely fatty, while having a light color and a loose consistency.
If under normal conditions the cow eats fresh grass, then the cow from the meat processing plant lives on corn (naturally, the cheapest and most modified corn) and protein supplements, often representing the ground bones of the slaughtered kin. The result is a shift in fat balance towards the harmful omega-6 fats found in corn.
It is important to note that meat processing plants process up to 98% of the carcass of a killed animal. Fat from the skins and bones is melted and added to the minced meat to get a sausage sausage. Additionally, hydrogenated vegetable fats are introduced into the composition of the product – unfortunately, during the aggressive processing, dangerous trans fats appear in them.
Among other things, as part of cheap sausages and sausages, some of the meat can be replaced with soy protein. However, the main problem of this protein is not at all in soybean itself, but, again, in aggressive chemical processes. To give soybeans the desired texture properties, they can be soaked in an alkaline solution, bleached, and so on.
The main dangerous element of the composition: stabilizers
Dyes and stabilizers are added to create an elastic structure and red “meat” color. As a dye, could be used chemical substances and dried blood.
Sodium nitrite: a dangerous preservative
Firstly, this is what gives the colorless mixture of animal and vegetable fats the familiar reddish-pink “sausage” color. Secondly, it is a powerful preservative that interferes with the development of cadaveric bacteria.
Despite the fact that many experts are sure that the regular use of sodium nitrite in food leads to various diseases and even cancer, it is simply impossible to exclude it from the composition of sausage – without this component, the meat will begin to rot intensively after several hours even in chilled condition.
“Liquid smoke” meat products
With the systematic use of products (sausages, ham, grilled chicken) produced with the help of “liquid smoke”, the gastric mucosa is corroded and gastrointestinal problems occur.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Sydney, Australia have found that liquid smoke activates the highest level of expression of cancer p53 gene in cells. It is activated by DNA damage. The product of this gene is the proteins involved in the gene. DNA damage repair: the higher the level of DNA damage, the more p53 is activated
Refined white flour
After processing, white flour loses most of its nutrients. White flour products, in addition, are bleached with chlorine. Medicine considers this gas to be a dangerous irritant, poisoning of which can lead to death.
In addition, white flour is a very glycemic product and has a negative effect on blood sugar. Products from not only contribute to the appearance of extra pounds, but can also increase the risk of cancer.Top Grade Refined White Flour Products – After processing, white flour loses most of its nutrients. White flour products, in addition, are bleached with chlorine. Medicine considers this gas to be a dangerous irritant, poisoning of which can lead to death.
In addition, white flour is a very glycemic product and has a negative effect on blood sugar. Products from not only contribute to the appearance of extra pounds, but can also increase the risk of cancer.
Microwave popcorn – Such popcorn contains perfluorooctanoic acid, which is also used in Teflon. Studies show that this chemical causes infertility in women. Scientists say that perfluorooctanoic acid dramatically increases the likelihood of cancer of the internal organs: liver, kidney, bladder, pancreas and testicles.
Microwave popcorn contains another very dangerous chemical, diacetyl. Diacetyl has been shown to alter the amino acid arginine which could interfere with protein structure and function. Additionally diacetyl can bind to DNA and form guanosine adducts which can cause DNA uncoiling and cell death. In vitro studies on human cells also suggest that diacetyl alters the structure and function of the extracellular matrix and modifies epithelial cell responses to growth factors.
The rate of renal cancer appears to be increasing. It is not 100% for sure yet if this is due to better detection and screening or if the incidence of the disease is actually increasing.
Genetic testing or cancer screening for kidney cancer is done typically if you are displaying certain symptoms of kidney cancer or if you have a family history of kidney cancer, otherwise there are no standard guidelines regarding screening so this should be discussed with your doctor on an individual basis.
Kidney cancer has a very good prognosis if caught early on. The key is detection and screening. Diet can play a role in kidney cancer, especially with excessive proteins, salt, potassium and other items.