Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer or renal cancer is any cancer that involves your kidney. Generally, this condition is caused by several factors which can include old age, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. Among adults, renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. There are other less common types of kidney cancer as well, such as Wilms Tumor, which is common among children.


Kidney cancer generally doesn’t show any signs or symptoms in the early stages. In time, there might be certain signs and symptoms which can include the following:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain in your back or side
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Fever


If you keep experiencing any persistent signs or symptoms that seem worrisome, you should consider making an appointment with your doctor.


In the majority of cases, doctors are not sure, what exactly the cause of kidney cancer is. However, they do know that kidney cancer begins when certain cells in the kidney develop certain changes or mutations in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains all the instructions on what to do. The changes instruct the cells to grow as well as divide rapidly. Thus, these accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor which may extend beyond the kidney. Some cells can also break off and spread to other parts of the body.

Certain factors are known to increase the risk of kidney cancer. They include the following:

Older age- With age, your risk of kidney cancer also increases.

Smoking- Smokers have a greater risk of kidney cancer than those who don’t smoke. If you quit smoking, the risk of kidney cancer decreases.

High blood pressure (hypertension)- High blood pressure also increases your risk of kidney cancer.

Treatment for kidney failure- People who receive long-term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure are also at risk of developing kidney cancer.

Obesity- Obese people have a high risk of kidney cancer as well, as compared to people having a healthy weight.
Family history of kidney cancer- If family members have had the disease, then the risk of kidney cancer gets higher.

Certain inherited syndromes- People who are born with certain inherited syndromes can also have a higher risk of kidney cancer. Some of these syndromes include von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, tuberous sclerosis complex, or familial renal cancer.


There are multiple tests and procedures used in the diagnosis of kidney cancer. They include:

Blood and Urine tests

Tests of your blood and your urine can give your doctor certain clues about what exactly is causing your signs and symptoms.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests can also allow your doctor to visualize a kidney tumor or abnormality. Imaging tests can include X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI.

Kidney biopsy

A kidney biopsy involves your doctor removing a small sample of cells from a suspicious area of your kidney. The sample is next tested in a lab to look for any signs of cancer. This procedure is not always needed.

Once your doctor is able to identify the kidney lesion that might be kidney cancer, the next step for him/her is to determine the extent or stage of cancer. For this, additional CT scans or other imaging tests might be required, if your doctor feels appropriate.

The stages of kidney cancer are indicated from I to IV. The lowest stages indicating the cancer is confined to the kidney, and at stage IV, the cancer is considered advanced and might have spread to other areas of the body.


Treatment options generally depend on various factors, which include overall health, type, and stage of kidney cancer, personal preferences, etc.


Surgery is generally the first option in most cases. The surgeon may remove all or part of the kidney. If required, they may also remove the lymph nodes as well as other tissues. Removing a whole kidney is also an option since a person can function with only one kidney. Sometimes laparoscopic surgery is also possible, with only small incisions.


In this non-surgical procedure, your doctor inserts a catheter and passes a synthetic material through it into the blood vessel. This material blocks the blood supply to your kidney, which can starve the tumor of oxygen and nutrition, thus, causing it to shrink.


This method involves your doctor inserting one or more special needles which are termed as cryoprobes. They are inserted through small incisions into your tumor. Gases in the needles are able to freeze the cells, then warm them, and then freeze them again. This cycle can kill cancer cells. However, it is noteworthy that this procedure may be painful, and can also lead to bleeding, infection as well as damage to the tissue close to the tumor.


Chemotherapy drip Image
Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to attack and kill the cancerous cells. It can stop or delay the progression of cancer. However, these drugs affect the entire body and can cause adverse effects. These effects often subside after the treatment finishes.

Radiation Therapy

This method uses high-powered energy beams to target and kills the cancer cells. However, radiation therapy usually does not cure kidney cancer, though it can ease the symptoms and reduce the spread of the cancerous cells.


Immunotherapy boosts your body’s ability to fight cancer.

Targeted therapy

In this treatment method, drugs target specific functions or genes that play a role in cancer development. This can interrupt the functions required for cancer to survive and grow.


To reduce your risk of kidney cancer, it is important to take steps to improve your overall health. If you smoke, try to quit. Work to maintain a healthy weight as well, if you are obese or overweight.

If you are having high blood pressure, it is important to keep it in control.


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