Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer includes renal cell carcinoma (cancer that forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products) and renal pelvis carcinoma (cancer that forms in the center of the kidney where urine collects).

Kidney cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in tubules of the kidney.

Renal cell cancer, also called kidney cancer or renal adenocarcinoma, is a disease in which malignant cancer cells are found in the lining of tubules in the kidney. There are two kidneys, one on each side of the backbone, above the waist. The tiny tubules in the kidneys filter and clean the blood, taking out waste products and making urine. The urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through a long tube called a ureter. The bladder stores the urine until it is passed from the body.

Cancer that starts in the ureters or the renal pelvis, which is the part of the kidney that collects urine and drains it to the ureters, is different from kidney cancer.

Smoking and misuse of certain pain medicines can affect the risk of renal cell cancer.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for kidney cancer include the following:

Possible signs of kidney cancer include blood in the urine and a lump in the abdomen.

These and other symptoms may be caused by renal cell cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. There may be no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms may appear as the tumor grows. Check with one of our urologists at Minnesota Urology if you have any of the following problems:

Tests that examine the abdomen and kidneys are used to detect (find) and diagnose renal cell cancer.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.

Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.

Urinalysis: A test to check the color of urine and its contents, such as sugar, protein, red blood cells, and white blood cells.

Liver function test: A procedure in which a sample of blood is checked to measure the amounts of enzymes released into it by the liver. An abnormal amount of an enzyme can be a sign that cancer has spread to the liver. Certain conditions that are not cancer may also increase liver enzyme levels.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): A series of x-rays of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder to find out if cancer is present in these organs. A contrast dye is injected into a vein. As the contrast dye moves through the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, x-rays are taken to see if there are any blockages.

CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).

Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. To do a biopsy for renal cell cancer, a thin needle is inserted into the tumor and a sample of tissue is withdrawn.

Certain factors affect the chance of recovery and your kidney cancer treatment options.

The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:

Transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the renal pelvis and ureter.

The renal pelvis is the top part of the ureter. The ureter is a long tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. There are two kidneys, one on each side of the backbone, above the waist. The kidneys of an adult are about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide and are shaped like a kidney bean. The kidneys clean the blood and make urine to rid the body of waste. The urine collects in the middle of each kidney in the renal pelvis. Urine drains from the renal pelvis through the ureter, into the bladder, where it is stored until it is passed from the body through the urethra.

The renal pelvis and ureters are lined with transitional cells. These cells can change shape and stretch without breaking apart. Transitional cell cancer starts in these cells. Transitional cell cancer can form in the renal pelvis or the ureter or both.

Renal Cell Cancer

Renal cell cancer is a more common type of kidney cancer.

Misuse of certain pain medicines can affect the risk of transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter include the following:

Possible signs of transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter include blood in the urine and back pain.

These and other symptoms may be caused by transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. There may be no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms may appear as the tumor grows. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following problems:

Tests that examine the abdomen and kidneys are used to detect and diagnose transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Urinalysis: A test to check the color of urine and its contents, such as sugar, protein, blood, and bacteria.

Ureteroscopy: A procedure to look inside the ureter and renal pelvis to check for abnormal areas. A ureteroscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. The ureteroscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis. A tool may be inserted through the ureteroscope to take tissue samples to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.

Urine cytology: Examination of urine under a microscope to check for abnormal cells. Cancer in the kidney, bladder, or ureter may shed cancer cells into the urine.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): A series of x-rays of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder to check for cancer. A contrast dye is injected into a vein. As the contrast dye moves through the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, x-rays are taken to see if there are any blockages.

CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.

Ultrasound: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. An ultrasound of the abdomen may be done to help diagnose cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the pelvis. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).

Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. This may be done during a ureteroscopy or surgery.

Certain factors affect prognosis and treatment options.

The prognosis depends on the stage and grade of the tumor.

The treatment options depend on the following:

Most transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis and ureter can be cured if found early.

Robotic Surgery for Kidney Cancer – Partial Nephrectomy

A kidney tumor is an abnormal growth in the kidney. The terms “mass,” “lesion” and “tumor” are often used interchangeably. Tumors may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The most common kidney mass is a fluid-filled area called a cyst. Simple cysts are benign, do not turn into cancer and usually do not require follow-up care. Solid kidney tumors can be benign or malignant.

The primary treatment option for kidney cancer is surgery to remove all or part of the kidney and the tumor. The removal of the entire kidney is called a radical nephrectomy. If you are a candidate for surgery, depending on your disease state and tumor location, you may not have to lose your entire kidney to surgery. An emerging surgical technique, called partial nephrectomy, aims to remove only the diseased part of your kidney and spare the healthy, functioning kidney tissue.

Individuals who are diagnosed with Kidney Cancer that requires a partial nephrectomy surgery now can benefit from the da Vinci® Surgical System. This robot-assisted surgery system allows doctors to perform laparoscopic and some complex surgeries with greater precision and control than traditional surgery. Some formerly invasive surgeries can even now be performed laparoscopically using da Vinci.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery for Kidney Cancer (Partial Nephrectomy) include: