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Kidney Cancer Treatment Options

Cancer Treatment Options The kidneys, like other organs within the body, can develop cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 58, 000 people are diagnosed with the disease annually. The most common type of kidney cancer to occur in adults is renal cell carcinoma; children can also develop a variety of the disease called Wilm's tumor. Treatment for kidney cancer that has spread will depend on a variety of factors such as the number of tumors, the patient's health, and the location of the tumors. Early detection plays a critical role in the course of action for kidney cancer treatment.

Surgery

Surgery is the course of action recommended for a large percentage of kidney cancer cases. The procedure used will depend on a person's health, the stage of the cancer, as well as individual preferences. A nephrectomy is the removal of the kidney and surrounding tissues. It can be performed through an incision or laparoscopically.

Laparoscopic surgery involves the insertion of small surgical tools and a video camera through small incisions in order to perform the surgery with the aid of a video monitor. Nephron-sparing surgery is the removal of the tumor from the kidney without removal of the kidney itself. This type of surgery is an option for those who have early-stage kidney cancer or those who only have one kidney.

Other Options

Surgery sometimes poses too much of a risk and other options must be considered. Embolization is a procedure in which blood flow is blocked from the tumor using an injection of a special material into the main blood vessel that leads to the kidney. This material blocks the blood vessel and the tumor is then deprived of oxygen and nutrients that are important to its survival.

Cryoablation is a treatment used to freeze the cancer cells. During the procedure needles are placed into the tumor through incisions. The gas within the needles creates a state of extreme cold that causes the surrounding cells to freeze. Another gas within the needles then causes the cells to thaw and then the procedure is repeated. This cycle then causes the cancer cells to die.

Advanced Cases

Treatments for kidney cancer that has advanced to other parts of the body might include more aggressive surgery, biological therapy and targeted therapy. Surgery may be performed to remove the entire kidney tumor in more advanced cases of kidney cancer. Removing as much of the tumor as possible may be helpful even in cases when all of the cancer cannot be removed.

Biological therapy causes the body's immune system to fight the cancer through the use of drugs such as interferon and interleukin-2. These drugs are synthetic versions of chemicals that are naturally created within the body. This treatment can have side effects such as chills, nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting.

Targeted therapy is a treatment that works to block specific signals of kidney cancer cells. The drugs used in this therapy have proven effective in treating cases in which the kidney cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Two drugs used in this therapy, sorafenib and sunitinib, are used to block the signals that work towards the blood vessel growth that is crucial to the thriving of cancer cells.

Another targeted therapy drug, temsirolimus, works by blocking specific signals that allow for the growth and survival of cancer cells. Targeted therapy drugs are expensive, sometimes more than $1, 000 a treatment, and can produce side effects such as diarrhea, fatigue and a rash that can become severe.

"Kidney Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment." Mayo Clinic. "Kidney Cancer." Mayo Clinic "How Many People Get Kidney Cancer." American Cancer Society.

By Tamara Lance - Tamara is the definition of a modern Renaissance man... only she is not a man. She does everything from photography to poetry and she still has plenty of time to contemplate all of life's little oddities.