Kidney cancer: What is it?

The primary function of our kidneys is blood filtration. Our kidneys can occasionally acquire masses, or growths or tumors. While many of these growths are not malignant, others are. To find out if your lump is malignant or not, you need to get it examined.

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Treatment options are many and varied. If your cancer is discovered early, oftentimes you have even more options. Your healthcare team is there to assist you. They can assist you in learning more about the benefits and drawbacks of various therapies. Here, we go into kidney cancer in greater detail as well as what to do if a lump appears in your body.

What Is a Mass in the Kidney?

A tumor is an abnormal development in the body, often known as a mass. Tumors or kidney masses are abnormal growths in the kidney. While certain kidney tumors are malignant (cancerous), others are benign (not cancerous).

Of kidney masses, one in four are benign. It is more likely that smaller lumps are benign. Greater mass increases the risk of cancer. While some tumors grow more quickly or aggressively, others may grow more slowly. Tumors that are aggressive can develop, grow, and spread fast.

About 40% of kidney growths are tiny, localized masses. A tumor that is localized has not spread from its original site. The primary tumor classifications are:

cancers of the renal cells (RCC). These kidney tumors are the most prevalent type of malignancy. They are located in the kidney’s major material, which is where filtration takes place. RCC can develop as two or more tumors in one kidney, or it might start as a single tumor inside the kidney.

Wilms tumors. Wilms tumors are uncommon in adults and nearly invariably affect youngsters.

Fundamental Knowledge about Kidney Cancer

Approximately 76,000 new instances of kidney cancer are detected annually in the United States, making it one of the top 10 most frequent malignancies. Kidney cancer is diagnosed in more males than women. Although kidney cancer can affect anybody, it is more frequent in American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and African Americans. Although kidney cancer can strike anybody at any age, older adults (those over 75) are more likely to have it. Your chances of survival are higher the earlier kidney cancer is detected.


The primary objectives of renal mass treatment are to eradicate the malignancy and, to the greatest extent feasible, preserve kidney function. Patients with single kidney or other renal diseases should take extra care to protect their kidney function.

There are folks who will never require surgery. For others, the best option could be surgery. In some cases, a tumor biopsy may be recommended in order to determine the tumor’s potential aggressiveness. One of four treatment options may then be suggested by your physician.

Continuous Monitoring

Your doctor will periodically see you for testing and imaging (taking photographs of inside your body) as part of active surveillance. For tiny masses less than 3 cm (1.2 inches), active surveillance is taken into consideration. Preventing progression and avoiding possible hazards and adverse effects from other therapies is the aim. Whenever it’s needed, you will see someone every three, six, or twelve months. In addition, chest x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds could be performed. The size and stage of the tumor, together with your age and overall health, will determine how frequently you visit your doctor.


Your surgeon could think about ablation if your tumor is modest (T1a, mass less than three centimeters in size). Radiation therapy, either hot or cold, is used to ablate the tumor. Your doctor may do a biopsy before ablation so a pathologist can look closely at the tumor cells to see if there is cancer.

Partial Heart Surgery

A nephrectomy is the kidney’s removal. A partial nephrectomy involves the removal of the kidney’s damaged and tumorous portions while leaving the healthy portion intact. Your doctor could recommend a partial nephrectomy if your tumor is at the T1a stage (4 cm or less). A partial nephrectomy can also be done for larger tumors if the tumor appears confined and amenable to this surgical approach.

Intensive Nephrectomy

During a radical nephrectomy, the whole kidney is removed. This is done if your kidney tumor shows signs of becoming cancerous or is very large or aggressive. Your body can function well with one good kidney if the other is removed.

Surgery for both types of nephrectomy can often be done via laparoscopic surgery but may need to be done by traditional open surgery depending on the size and characteristics of the tumor. During laparoscopy, your surgeon makes a very small hole in your abdomen and threads a thin, lighted tube to the site to look at the kidney.

Care Management

Your health care team is likely to have several different medical professionals such as a radiologist, urologist, nephrologists, pathologist and medical oncologist. These specialists will work with you to consider all your choices and discuss the risks and benefits of treatment. Genetic counseling might also be recommended if you have a family history of kidney tumors.