Kidney cancer affects a significant portion of the cancer community: 50000 cases a year is not a small number. So what is kidney cancer? Kidney cancer, otherwise known as renal cancer, is characterized by cell growth that starts in the kidney. There are two main types: Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) and Urothelial Cell Carcinoma (UCC). RCC starts in the tubes of the kidney that transport urine – the most popular form of kidney cancer. The stages of RCC show rapid progression, from clogging one of the tubes in stage 1 to spreading throughout the kidney and beyond by stage 3. Due to the disease occurring in the kidneys some of the side effects can be odd and brutal. RCC can lead to high blood calcium levels, thrombocytosis (too many platelets in the blood, making blood clotting easier), bloody urine, flank pain, and high fevers. It is a disease that creeps up on the patient – until drastic physical symptoms like the aforementioned bloody urine show up, most have no idea they have the disease. UCC is specifically a cancer of the ureter or urethra. It is often a multifocal cancer, with multiple tumors appearing on the first diagnosis. Kidney cancer is often treated by surgery – though biological therapies are starting to become more possible. These drug-based treatments have a very lengthy approval process and require large amounts of research. There’s much to be gained from supporting the fight against kidney cancer – join the fight with a bright orange wristband!
Written by Michele Wheat