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Kidney Cancer: 8 Common Myths Debunked By Expert

Blood in the urine, chronic back or side discomfort, unexplained weight loss, exhaustion, fever, and a palpable tumour or lump in the abdomen are signs of kidney cancer.

Kidney Cancer: 8 Common Myths Debunked By Expert

Kindney cancer can spread beyond the kidneys

One of the major health challenges in India is kidney cancer, which causes 1.8 lakh deaths each year, and ranks 13th among all types of cancer. In India alone, 2 in 2 lakh men and 1 in 1 Lakh women are at high risk of contracting Kidney cancer. In addition, statistics show that men are more likely to contract the disease than women. A majority of kidney cancer cases occur in people between the ages of 65 and 74 worldwide. There are certain signs and symptoms to watch out for and these include - blood in the urine, chronic back or side discomfort, unexplained weight loss, exhaustion, fever, and a palpable tumour or lump in the abdomen. Some of the factors that contribute to the risk of kidney cancer include smoking, hereditary transmission, obesity, and alcohol consumption. In India many patients do not get diagnosed on time as they lack awareness around the signs and symptoms of kidney cancer. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness around the same. Myths which need to be busted in this regard are the following.

Myths about kidney cancer

Myth 1: Kidney cancer is not preventable.

Fact: While not all cases of kidney cancer can be prevented, there are certain lifestyle choices that can help reduce the risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, managing blood pressure, staying physically active, and eating a balanced diet.

Myth 2: Only the elderly is at danger of developing kidney cancer.

Fact: While kidney cancer is more frequent in older people, it can afflict anyone of any age. Certain risk factors, such as smoking and genetic susceptibility, can lead to kidney cancer developing at a younger age.

Myth 3: The only kind of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma.

Fact: Although renal cell carcinoma is not the only kind of kidney cancer, it is the most frequent. Other varieties of kidney cancer can harm people and are likely to be more threatening to their life. Because it is present in 90% of instances of kidney cancer, the majority of people believe that this is the only form of tumour that affects the kidneys. The lining of the kidney is the first location of malignant development before it extends to the kidney's interior cells. However, less common types of kidney cancer include transitional cell carcinoma that affects the ureters but begins in the kidneys, and Wilms' tumour of the kidney that can occur in children.

Myth 4: Kidney cancer cannot be treated if it has spread beyond the kidneys.

Fact: While advanced-stage kidney cancer that has spread to other organs or distant sites (metastatic kidney cancer) is more challenging to treat, there are treatment options available. These may include targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and other systemic treatments to help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.

Myth 5: Smoking does not contribute to kidney cancer.

Fact: Smoking is a well-known risk factor for kidney cancer, and there is a wealth of information indicating its detrimental effects on the kidneys. When one smoke tobacco, toxic substances enter your bloodstream and are filtered by your kidneys. Tobacco smoke contains compounds that, over time, can harm the delicate structures and cells of the kidneys.

Myth 6: Kidney cancer always necessitates total kidney removal.

Fact: While it is true that in certain circumstances, the entire kidney may need to be removed, this is not true in all cases of kidney cancer. Depending on the stage and size of the tumour, its location, and the patient's overall health, partial nephrectomy (removal of only the tumour and a small section of the kidney) may be a possibility. When feasible, kidney function should be preserved.

Myth 7: Kidney cancer cannot be detected in its early stages.

Fact: Kidney cancer can be detected at an early stage using a variety of ways. Ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can all aid in the detection of kidney tumours. Furthermore, if blood is seen in the urine (hematuria), it might be an indicator that additional examination is needed to establish the reason, which could include kidney cancer.

Myth 8: Blood in the urine is a sure sign of kidney cancer.

Fact: While blood in the urine (hematuria) can be an indication of kidney cancer, it is not always the case. Hematuria can be caused by a variety of illnesses, ranging from urinary tract infections to kidney stones to less prevalent disorders. If blood is seen in the urine, it is critical to visit a healthcare practitioner so that proper testing may be performed to establish the underlying reason. Additional diagnostic tests, such as imaging and biopsy, may be needed to confirm or rule out kidney cancer.

Distinguishing between myths and realities is critical for understanding the condition. Recognising kidney cancer signs and risk factors can help with early identification and treatment. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, avoiding tobacco use, keeping a healthy weight, and controlling problems such as high blood pressure can also lower the chance of getting kidney cancer. Regular check-ups with urologist are essential for improving kidney health and preventing the chance of developing kidney cancer.

(Dr. Pankaj Wadhwa, Senior Director - Urology, Urology and Andrology, Kidney and Urology Institute, Medanta Gurugram)

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