Kidney Cancer Treatment in Oklahoma City, OK
Kidney cancer, also referred to as renal cell carcinoma (RCC), is among the top 10 cancers found in men. About 40,000 new cases are reported each year, with a majority of them being in men over 40, who fall into the high-risk category. The good news is that there’s a very high survival rate, so it’s important to look for the warning signs to diagnose the disease early.
Dr. Ash Bowen is a board-certified urologist with extensive experience diagnosing and treating patients for kidney cancer in the OKC area. He will take the time to fully explain all of your treatment options and answer any questions. He is also a member of the American Urological Association and has over 10 years of experience in urologic oncology. Call 405-749-9655 to schedule an appointment at our urology office in Oklahoma City, or request an appointment through our secure online form.
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?
The most common symptoms tend to show up in the lower back area or are evident in the urine.
1. Blood in your urine
This is the most common symptom and typically the earliest sign of kidney cancer. Even the slightest amount of blood will affect the color of your urine, giving it either a brown or pink discoloration. You may also experience difficult or painful urination.
2. Pain or discomfort in your side or back of the abdomen
This is a persistent, strong pain in your side that may be accompanied by a lump as well.
3. A loss of appetite
Kidney cancer may cause a loss of appetite and in turn, a sudden weight loss not caused by conscious dieting.
4. An unexplained fever lasting longer than normal
This fever is different than others as it typically lasts for weeks and there isn’t a specific cause to associate it with such as a cold or other infection.
5. Extreme fatigue and weakness
People with kidney cancer experience constant and extreme tiredness and a feeling of weakness throughout the body.
Who Is At High Risk for Kidney Cancer?
Doctors are still unable to pinpoint the exact cause of kidney cancer, however, they have picked up on a few common factors that may increase one’s risk. The number one factor is age. Kidney cancer is more prevalent in people over the age of 40 and continues to increase with each passing year. Other risk factors that may increase your chance of getting kidney cancer include:
- High blood pressure
- Being male
- Being obese or having diabetes
- Genetic conditions/ family history of kidney cancer
- Race (rates are higher in African-American and Hispanic individuals)
Treatment for Kidney Cancer in OKC
Localized kidney cancer includes stages I through III. It is called localized because the cancer has not yet spread beyond the kidney (except for nearby lymph nodes, which are part of the body’s immune system).
Surgery to remove part or all of the affected kidney is the preferred treatment for most people with localized kidney cancer. How much tissue is removed depends upon:
- size and location of the cancer in the kidney
- number of tumors present
- how well the kidneys work.
If the tumor is large or in the center of the kidney, Dr. Ash Bowen may remove the entire kidney, as well as nearby areas that are affected (radical nephrectomy). This is more likely to be done if the other kidney works well. Fortunately, most people can live well with just one kidney.
If the other kidney is not functioning properly, the surgeon may remove only part of the kidney to allow the kidney to keep working, at least somewhat. This can be done either surgically, or by freezing or burning the kidney tumors.
Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma
Advanced (or metastatic) renal cell carcinoma consists of stage IV kidney cancer. This type of advanced cancer is difficult to cure.
Medicine (also known as medical treatment) is used instead of, or in addition to, kidney surgery. Three of the main types of medical treatment are:
- Interleukin-2 (IL-2). This therapy turns on the immune system so that it attacks the cancer cells. It is usually only used when you are healthy enough to withstand the severe side effects, such as fever, kidney failure, low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.
- Anti-angiogenic therapies. This medical treatment keeps new blood vessels from forming and supplying the tumor with the blood that it needs to grow and survive. This will not cure kidney cancer but can stop the tumor from growing for a long time. Side effects include tiredness, high blood pressure, and rashes.
- Targeted therapies. These medicines slow the growth of the cancer by interfering with the cancer cells directly. This treatment also won’t cure kidney cancer but can help you live longer with fewer symptoms. Side effects include tiredness, high blood pressure, and rashes.
Kidney Cancer Surgery
Surgery for advanced renal cell carcinoma is sometimes used before medical treatment, although medical treatment may be done on its own.
Surgery can be done robotically where the surgeon uses a high tech machine, called the da Vinci robot. The arms of the robot are controlled by the physician and it mimics the doctor’s hand movements precisely. This allows the surgeon to reach areas within the body without having to make large incisions and without seriously damaging skin and tissue.
As with localized kidney cancer, all or part of the kidney is removed. Treatment for advanced kidney cancer, though, also involves removing areas outside of the kidney where the cancer has spread (metastases).
Surgery does not usually cure the cancer in cases of advanced renal cell carcinoma, but may reduce the symptoms and allow you to delay medical treatment.
Radiation or Chemotherapy
Radiation or chemotherapy may be used after surgery in both localized and advanced kidney cancer. These are used to kill left-over cancer cells, even if all of the visible cancer was removed. This lowers the risk that kidney cancer will return.
With radiation therapy, X-rays or another type of radiation is used to kill the cancer cells. The radiation source is either outside the body (as with the X-rays) or placed inside the body (using a radioactive substance).
Chemotherapy drugs—taken by mouth or injected—kill the cancer cells or stop them from growing.
Regular check-ups after treatment are advised to make sure that the cancer does not return. This may include an exam, lab tests, and X-ray tests, and are done every 6 to 12 months for at least five years.
Schedule a Kidney Cancer Consultation
If you are at risk or have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, contact urologist Ash Bowen, MD in Oklahoma City today to discuss your treatment options. To schedule an appointment, you can reach our office by calling 405-749-9655, or request an appointment through our secure online form.