Kidney cancer isn’t talked about the same way other cancers are. Perhaps that’s because it affects fewer people each year than breast or prostate cancer. And unlike skin or colon cancer, we’re not usually screened for it.
But kidney cancer is relatively common—and just as serious if not treated appropriately. That’s why you should talk to your doctor right away if you suspect something is wrong with one of your kidneys.
Most of us are aware we have kidneys—but are less familiar with how they work and why they’re important.
Your kidneys are a pair of small but powerful organs. They filter waste products from your blood and convert them into urine. They regulate the amount of water and electrolytes in your body. And they create hormones that help control your blood pressure.
When cancer develops in your kidney, it can cause the kidney to stop working properly. You may notice unusual symptoms, including:
There are several types of kidney cancer, but the most common is renal cell carcinoma. It makes up about 90 percent of all kidney cancers.
If you have kidney cancer, you’ll find yourself in capable and compassionate hands at Mercy. As a faith-based health care organization, we are called to a higher standard. We focus on treating the whole person, meaning we nourish your mind and spirit while we fight your cancer.
Your treatment plan will depend on several factors. These include what stage your cancer is in and whether it has spread. Based on a thorough discussion with your doctor, you may have one or more of the following treatments:
· Medication, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy
· Minimally invasive procedures that can freeze cancer cells (cryoablation) or kill them with heat (radiofrequency ablation)
· Surgery to remove part or all of the cancerous kidney. Even if you lose a kidney, you don’t have to lose hope. Many people live long, healthy lives with one functioning kidney. Often, minimally invasive surgery, using state of the art robotic technology, can be used to remove either a portion of the kidney or the whole kidney as appropriate.
Our goal is not just to help you conquer cancer. We’ll also provide tools and resources to keep your kidneys (or kidney) healthy for the rest of your life. Support may include help quitting smoking, losing weight or lowering your blood pressure.
Over time, we’ll help you take your mind off your kidneys—and turn your attention back to the people and activities you love.