Kidney & Bladder Cancer
Kidney & Bladder Cancer
Kidneys & bladder are the major organs of the urinary tract, along with the ureters and urethra. The kidneys main function is to filter blood to remove impurities, excess minerals, salts, and water, thus producing urine. Urine is then stored in the bladder – a hollow organ in the pelvis – before it leaves the body during urination.
Cancer in the kidney is also known as renal cancer. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC) which develops in the proximal renal tubules that make up of the kidney’s filtration system. According to the National Cancer Registry Report 2007-2011, kidney cancer accounts for 1.28% cancer cases in Malaysia.
Due to the correlation of the kidneys and bladder, both types of cancer share similar signs and symptoms, such as,
- Blood in urine
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Feeling the need to urinate many times
- Lower back pain on 1 side of the body
People with kidney cancer may also experience these symptoms,
- Swelling of ankles and legs
- A mass or lump on the side or back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- For men, cluster of enlarged veins, known as varicocele, around a testicle may present if the tumour has grown larger
Staging of cancer helps the doctor determine the treatment course and the diagram below explains the meaning behind the numbering of cancer staging.
Diagnosis & Treatment
A blood and urine test would be the preliminary diagnostic procedure to check for the number of red blood cells and to check on blood in urine, bacteria or cancer cells. The key diagnostic procedure for bladder cancer is cystoscopy, which allows the doctor to detect growth in the bladder and determine the need for a biopsy or surgery. It can also be used to obtain tumour cells for examination under a microscope.
Medical imaging technologies such as computed tomography (CT scan), Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET/CT Scan) and in some cases magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be needed to determine the location and the size of the tumour.
Treatment course will be determined by the oncologist upon obtaining the diagnostics results. Depending on the staging of the cancer, the location and size of the tumour, treatment options may vary from case to case and may include,
- Radiation therapy
- Radiosurgery (Cyberknife)
- Targeted Therapy
According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2007-2011, both bladder and kidney cancer is more prevalent amongst men. While kidney cancer affects mostly Chinese male, bladder cancer affects Malay males.
The actual cause of kidney & bladder cancer is not known, however, a few risk factors are known to be associated to the development of cancer, such as,
- High blood pressure
- Overuse of certain medications (diuretics and analgesic pills like aspirin & ibuprofen)
- Smoking tobacco (doubles the risk of developing cancer)
- Genetic predisposal (family history)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Workplace exposure
- Chemicals like aromatic amines, which are sometimes used in the dye industry can cause bladder cancer
- Substances like cadmium ( a type of metal), herbicides, and organic solvents, particularly trichloroethylene