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Kidney Cancer

Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists

Located in Bellingham, WA - Serving the Pacific Northwest

Kidney cancer ranks among the top 10 most common cancers in American men and women. At Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists in Bellingham, Washington, the experienced team of urologists provides the most advanced diagnostics and specialized care available for urological cancers. To learn more about treatment for kidney cancer, call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.

Kidney Cancer

What are the kidneys?

Your kidneys are the two organs in the back of your abdomen that work to filter your blood and make urine. Your kidneys also create hormones that affect your vitamin D level and red blood cell production.

Most men and women have two kidneys. One is on the left side of your spine, and one is on the right. Your kidneys function separately so you can usually survive with a single kidney, if necessary.


What is kidney cancer?

When you develop cancer in your kidney, more than 90% of the time it involves renal cell carcinomas. This type of cancer forms in the small structures found inside your kidney, or renal tubes, involved in filtering your urine.

Kidney cancer usually doesn’t have symptoms. Sometimes, you may experience blood in your urine, as well as an abdominal mass, abdominal or back pain, fatigue, and weight loss.


What causes kidney cancer?

In most cases, there isn’t an obvious cause for kidney cancer, but several factors can increase your risk, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • A family history of the disease
  • Being overweight or obese

Your chances of developing kidney cancer are also higher if you have certain medical conditions, like tuberous sclerosis and Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome.


How is kidney cancer diagnosed?

Kidney cancer is usually found incidentally during imaging tests for other reasons. If your urologist detects a mass, they typically perform a physical exam, discuss your medical history, and order additional tests to determine the size and location of your tumor.

Unlike other types of cancer, kidney cancer usually isn’t confirmed with a biopsy because the chances of your mass being cancerous are very high and a biopsy may not be accurate.


How is kidney cancer treated?

The main course of treatment for kidney cancer involves surgery to remove all the cancer cells from your body. Depending on the size and location of your tumor, your urologist might recommend:

  • Active surveillance: monitoring your cancer growth and delaying treatment
  • Partial nephrectomy: removing a portion of your kidney
  • Radical nephrectomy: removing your entire kidney, surrounding fat, and sometimes the adrenal gland and nearby lymph nodes
  • Robot partial nephrectomy
  • Robot radical nephrectomy

If surgery isn’t an option, your urologist might also recommend alternative treatments like cryotherapy or radiofrequency ablation. These procedures use a small needle to destroy cancer cells with either cold or heat.

Call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.