understanding kidney cancer

From Symptoms to Solutions

Kidney cancer affects thousands of people every year. Recognizing early signs is crucial for effective treatment. This article will discuss kidney cancer, looking at the symptoms, dietary tips and some treatment options available like Inlyta, or axitinib, a medication used to treat kidney cancer. It works by blocking the growth of blood vessels that tumors need to grow. By doing this, Inlyta helps slow down or stop the spread of cancer cells in the body.

Signs of Kidney Cancer

Blood in the Urine (Hematuria)

This is one of the earliest and most common signs of kidney cancer. Blood in the urine can be visible (gross hematuria) or detectable only under a microscope (microscopic hematuria). The urine might appear pink, red, or cola-colored. While blood in the urine can be alarming, it doesn't always indicate cancer, but it does warrant prompt medical evaluation.

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Lower Back Pain

Persistent pain on one side of the lower back or in the area between the ribs and the hip (the flank) can be a symptom of kidney cancer. This pain isn't typically caused by injury and doesn't go away with rest. It can vary from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Sudden, unintentional weight loss is a concerning sign that often accompanies many types of cancer, including kidney cancer. If you are losing weight without changing your diet or exercise habits, seeking medical advice is important to determine the underlying cause.


Feeling unusually tired or weak, even with sufficient rest and sleep, can be a sign of kidney cancer. Cancer cells consume a lot of the body's energy, and the disease can cause changes in how the body uses nutrients, leading to persistent fatigue.


Frequent or prolonged fevers that aren’t caused by an infection can indicate kidney cancer. These fevers can come and go and are often not accompanied by other common signs of infection, such as a runny nose or cough.

Swelling (Edema)

Swelling in the ankles, legs, or feet can occur when the kidneys are not functioning properly. Kidney cancer can affect the kidneys' ability to balance fluids and salts in the body, leading to fluid retention and swelling.

Lump or Mass

Sometimes, a lump or mass can be felt in the side, lower back, or abdomen. This is less common but can be an indication of a tumor. If you feel any unusual lumps, it's important to get them checked by a doctor.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Elevated blood pressure that is difficult to control can sometimes be linked to kidney issues, including cancer. The kidneys play a critical role in regulating blood pressure, and cancer can interfere with this function, leading to hypertension.

What is Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys, which are two bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine. The most common type is renal cell carcinoma, which begins in the cells lining the kidneys' small tubes. This cancer can grow and spread to other parts of the body if not detected and treated early. Early detection through regular check-ups can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment.

Dietary Tips for Kidney Cancer

Eating a well-balanced diet is crucial for individuals with kidney cancer to maintain their strength and support their overall health. Here are some dietary tips to consider:

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help your kidneys function properly. However, if you have been advised to limit fluid intake, follow your doctor's recommendations.

Focus on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet. These foods are rich in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help support your immune system.

Choose Lean Proteins

Opt for lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, beans and tofu. Protein is important for muscle repair and maintaining strength, but it’s crucial to avoid overloading your kidneys with too much protein at once.

Limit Salt Intake

Reduce your consumption of salt and sodium-rich foods to help control blood pressure and prevent fluid retention. Use herbs and spices to flavor your meals instead of salt.

Avoid Processed Foods

Minimize intake of processed and packaged foods, which often contain high levels of sodium, preservatives and unhealthy fats. Choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

Eat Small, Frequent Meals

Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help manage your energy levels and prevent nausea, which can be a side effect of treatment.

Treatment Options for Kidney Cancer


  • Partial nephrectomy: This surgery removes only the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue around it, preserving as much of the kidney as possible.
  • Radical nephrectomy: This procedure involves removing the entire kidney, surrounding tissue and sometimes nearby lymph nodes. It is often used for larger tumors or when the cancer has spread beyond the kidney.

Ablation and Other Local Therapies

  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): This technique uses high-energy radio waves to heat and destroy cancer cells. It is often used for small tumors.
  • Cryoablation: This method involves freezing the cancer cells to kill them. Like RFA, it is typically used for smaller tumors.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies use drugs that specifically target cancer cell pathways to stop their growth and spread. These drugs are often used for advanced kidney cancer and include options like sunitinib, pazopanib and Inlyta (axitinib), a medication used to treat kidney cancer. It works by blocking the growth of blood vessels that tumors need to grow, which helps to slow down or stop the spread of cancer cells in the body.


Immunotherapy helps the body's immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. Drugs such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab have shown effectiveness in treating advanced kidney cancer.

Radiation Therapy

While not commonly used as the primary treatment for kidney cancer, radiation therapy can be useful in controlling symptoms and treating cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.


Although not typically effective for most types of kidney cancer, chemotherapy might be used in specific cases, especially if the cancer is not responding to other treatments.

Read on to learn about cystinosis, a hereditary disease that can cause kidney failure in children.