Renal cell carcinoma (hypernephroma) is a form of kidney cancer that affects the cell lining of the tubles in the kidneys, through which urine passes. Basically, this cancer causes uncontrolled growth of abnormal (malignant) cells in the tubles, which (if left untreated) can spread to other parts of the kidneys and body.
Renal cell carcinoma is not the only type of kidney cancer but it is the most common. It accounts for more than 80 percent of adult kidney cancers and affects twice as many males as females. It also tends to develop more frequently in men over the age of 60.
Other less common forms of kidney cancer include transitional cell carcinoma (occurs in the area where the kidney and the ureters join) and renal sarcoma (develops in the connective tissues of the kidneys)
There may be no symptoms in the early stages. As time progresses, however, symptoms may begin to manifest. These may include the following:
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should promptly visit their doctor for an evaluation. The earlier this condition is detected, the better the chances of effectively treating it. The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment depends on the stage of the disease, as well as the patient's health and age.
The following stages are used to classify the severity of renal cell cancer (hypernephroma):
It is important to know the stage of the disease in order to determine the most appropriate treatment option and increase the patient's chances of recovery.
Basically, there are four (4) standard treatment options. They are:
Surgery - Parts of or the entire kidney affected by malignant cells are removed. In some cases, surrounding cells and organs may also be surgically removed.
A partial nephrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove cancer cells within the kidney and in some of the surrounding tissue.
If the cancer has spread to the entire kidney a simple nephrectomy, to remove the entire kidney, may be necessary.
When cancer cells have spread to surrounding organs and tissues, a surgical procedure known as a radical nephrectomy removes the kidney, adrenal gland, surrounding tissues and possibly nearby lymph nodes.
Radiation therapy is another treatment option. This uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy - This treatment option uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It can be taken by mouth or by injection.
Finally, biologic therapy (also referred to as biotherapy or immunotherapy) is a treatment option that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer cells. Substances are administered to boost the body's natural defenses against cancer.
The patient's physician usually recommends the most appropriate treatment option or options, which are largely determined by the patient's circumstances (age, health, etc.) and the stage of development of the cancer. Early detection and diagnosis offers the best opportunity for effectively treating renal cell carcinoma.