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Reviewed by

Team Resolve

February 4, 2022

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Kidney is a vital organ, responsible for filtration of the blood and removing all the waste material in urine. To achieve this humongous task of filtering the whole of the blood daily, the kidney is made up of several tiny units called nephrons. Any uncontrolled and unregulated growth in the cells of these nephrons is what is known as kidney cancer, or renal cell carcinoma. In the past few years, doctors have witnessed an increase in the incidence of renal cell carcinomas, highlighting the importance of educating oneself about the risk factors, symptoms, treatment and rehabilitation of this disease.

Table of Contents

Who is at risk?

Even though anyone can develop renal cell carcinoma, a higher incidence is seen in elderly males. Various other modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors determine chances of developing renal cell carcinoma.

  • Smoking: A higher incidence of renal cell carcinoma is noted in individuals who have smoked for years.
  • Obesity: Individuals falling above the normal BMI bracket are at a higher risk of developing this disease.
  • High Blood Pressure: Persistently uncontrolled high blood pressure recordings are a cause of concern.
  • Family History: Presence of close relatives with renal cell cancer can lead to higher chances of developing the disease.
  • Occupation: Workers in asbestos related industries; exposure to various dyes, cadmium and herbicides are also implicated as a risk factor.
  • Past history of Hepatitis C infection
  • Medication: Chronic usage of drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen can also lead to kidney cancer.

What are the symptoms?

  • Bleeding in the urine: Passing of pink or cola/brown colored urine is indicative of some internal bleeding and should always be checked out by a doctor.
  • Pain: Persistent pain in the back or the sides are commonly noticed symptoms.
  • Lump: Feeling a lump in the back or the sides should raise an alarm.
  • Significant weight loss despite making no changes in diet or lifestyle is always a cause of concern.
  • Increased tiredness on daily activities and early fatigability
    • Anemia
  • When to contact a doctor?

    Early interventions can make a lot of difference in the outcome of a cancer. Hence, it is important to contact a doctor in the following conditions:

    • Bleeding in urine
    • Past treatment of chronic kidney diseases
    • Congenital or inherited diseases involving kidney
    • Pain or lump in the back
    • Sudden and significant weight loss
    • Any other symptom which troubles the individual

    What can be done at home?

    Taking small steps at home can make a big difference in the treatment, and its outcome for the patient. For a high-risk patient of kidney cancer or for a patient already undergoing treatment for kidney cancer, following can be done:

    Physical Therapy

    • Stretching: Stretching helps increase blood flow to the body, improves healing and also alleviates anxiety. Stretch and move the upper limb joints as per their range of motion to avoid stiffness.
    • Aerobic Exercises: Brisk walking, jogging, swimming can help the body regain strength and also promotes blood supply to the various organs. Care should be taken to not injure oneself and to start a new exercise under guidance of a therapist.
    • Strength Training: Strength training exercises can help regain normalcy in life and make an individual capable of returning back to daily chores.

    Note: Always consult a therapist before starting any exercise. Stop any activity which may cause discomfort.

    Mental Health

    A diagnosis of a disease like kidney cancer not only affects the patient but also his near and dear ones. To ensure holistic treatment, it is important to address the mental health aspect of the disease, offering complete emotional support to the individual as well as the caretakers.

    • Educate oneself from valid resources and do not believe in hear-say stories.
    • Individuals as well as the family should be counselled to mitigate the concerns and fears. It is only natural to feel anxious about the outcome of such a disease but keeping a positive outlook not only helps recover but also cope with a disease.
    • Proper psychiatric or psychological help should be taken if the individual feels anxious, there is loss of interest in activities previously found pleasurable, loss of appetite, change in sleeping patterns etc.
    • Attempts should be made to keep oneself busy by developing some hobbies to keep the mind free from anxiety.
    • Practice meditation
    • Join a support group with other fellow patients. Not only does this help in coming to terms with the disease, but also helps in establishing trust and hope for any patient.

    Lifestyle Modifications

    • Alcohol and smoking cessation: The individual must be encouraged to quit smoking and reduce the consumption of alcohol to a bare minimum. It helps the body recover from the daily insults and can halt the progression of the disease.
    • Diet: Increased intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, clean water and reducing consumption of fast food can help achieve a healthier lifestyle and cope up with the disease.
    • Exercise: Daily brisk exercise and improve the circulation to the muscles as well as lungs, allowing them to heal from past insults. It is recommended to maintain a BMI within the normal Asian range.
    • Daily meditation can help alleviate anxiety and help the patient recover mentally.

    Treatment Options

    To commence a treatment, a final diagnosis is needed. Several investigations like deranged kidney function test reports, CT scan, MRI, bone scans and biopsy reports help make a conclusive diagnosis, stage the cancer and start one of the following treatment modalities:

    • Medicines: Medical science has evolved enough to be able to control the growth of cancerous tissues with various anticancer medicines. It is preferred in those individuals who do not show any metastasis of the cancer.
    • Surgery: Cancerous tissue can also be operated on and removed from the body.
    • Radiotherapy: Radiation can help destroy the cancerous tissues and is highly effective. 
    • Dialysis and Transplant: In cases where the kidney is damaged beyond the stage of possible recovery, regular dialysis can help replace the normal function of filtration. Kidney transplant can also be considered after surgery.
    • Lifestyle Modifications: A change in diet, daily exercise and no smoking can help improve the outcome of the treatment.
    • Counselling: In a disease like kidney cancer, it is important to educate the patient and his/her family, mitigate their doubts and concerns, and give them emotional support to tide over the illness.

    With a recent shift in lifestyle, cancer cases are increasing day by day. Any cancer has the potential to cause disability and lasting effects on the suffering individual. To ensure complete recovery, it is important to lay emphasis on rehabilitation as well as medicinal treatment. Resolve360 is an endeavour, committed to making rehabilitative services accessible to anyone anywhere. We have a dedicated team of specialists, working holistically yet ensuring personalized treatment for all the patients. To book your first free session, register here! https://resolve360.app/ 

    Disclaimer

    This article is meant to guide and educate the patients. All medical treatment is to be undertaken under the guidance of expert medical service providers only.

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