Raising Kidney Cancer Awareness in March
March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. While there are multiple ways to get involved, the best way to raise awareness is to learn more about this type of cancer so you can share it with others.
What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is a very common cancer. In fact, it is one of the ten most common cancers in men and women. It affects the kidneys, which are located above the waist with one on the right side of the spine and one on the left side of the spine. The kidneys are about the size of a fist and shaped like a kidney bean.
The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC). It is seen in 9 out of 10 people who are diagnosed with kidney cancer. There are many different types of renal cell carcinoma, including clear-cell, papillary, chromophore, and collecting duct adenocarcinomas.
There are two major risk factors for developing kidney cancer: smoking and genetic risk factors. Smoking increases your risk by 80% to 90%. Furthermore, if you have a first-degree relative with kidney cancer then your risk doubles. However, even if you don't have these risks, you still have a 20% chance of getting kidney cancer over your lifetime.
Can Kidney Cancer Be Prevented?
In many cases, the exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown. But there are ways to lower your risk of getting kidney and other types of cancers. Understanding the risk factors is a good place to start.
The American Cancer Society explains men and women who have inherited a disease that puts them at high risk or those who have a family history are at the highest risk of developing kidney cancer. Other risk factors include being overweight, having high blood pressure, being on dialysis, smoking, or exposure to chemicals.
How Early Detection Can Save Lives
As with other types of cancer, early detection can help treat kidney cancer and save lives. Some kidney cancers can be found early and stay limited to the kidneys. Others are found at more advanced stages. That's because detention can be difficult due to the kidney's location in the body.
A routine urinalysis may find small amounts of blood in the urine of people with early kidney cancer. Although this is not always the most accurate way to detect it. Other issues may cause blood in the urine such as urinary tract infections, bladder infections, or kidney stones. Plus, some people may not experience blood in their urine until the cancer is large.
Imaging tests like ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can detect small kidney cancers. That's why kidney cancers are often found by accident when conducting imaging tests for another symptom or illness. The survival rate is high when found at early stages.
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