According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 58,240 people in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer (35,370 men and 22,870 women) and about 13,040 people will die from this disease. As with all cancers, early diagnosis of kidney cancer dramatically improves the chance for survival. Although the prognosis of kidney cancer is relatively poor for kidney cancer that is advanced (metastasized), promising new treatments are improving the outlook for patients. These statistics include adults and children and include renal cell carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis. The majority of patients diagnosed with kidney cancer are over the age of 45 with the highest incidences between the ages of 55 and 84.
What are signs or symptoms of kidney cancer?
Unfortunately, kidney cancer rarely causes visible signs or symptoms in its early stages. In the later stages, the most common sign of both renal cell and transitional cell cancers is blood in the urine (hematuria). Most of the time RCC is now found incidentally, during physical examinations for other problems, by imaging studies such as ultrasound, CAT scan or MRI. You may notice the blood when you urinate, or your doctor may detect blood from a urinalysis, a test that specifically checks the contents of your urine.
In most cases, blood in the urine does not mean you have kidney cancer.Blood in the urine can be a sign of many conditions, including kidney stones, prostate problems, urinary tract infections or a non-cancerous cyst on the kidney. It is important that you determine the cause of it as soon as possible by discussing your symptoms and concerns with your doctor.
In addition to a medical history and physical exam, diagnostic tests include blood and urine studies; imaging tests including ultrasound and computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); a cystoscopy to provide a view of the bladder, urethra and kidneys; and a biopsy.
If cancer is found, these tests also help to determine the cancer’s stage – whether it is confined to the kidney, has spread to surrounding tissue or a nearby lymph node, or has moved to distant parts of the body.
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