Kidney Cancer: Myths and Facts
Last updated date: 15-Jul-2021
4 mins read
In India, the estimated incidence of kidney cancer is around 2/100,000 people (males) and approximately 1/100,000 people (females). Kidney cancer treatment options vary depending on the severity of cancer present, the size, and location of the tumour. Dr. Santosh S. Waigankar – Consultant, Urologic Oncology & Robotic Surgery shares some of the common myths and facts concerning kidney cancers and their various aspects:
Myth: Kidney cancer primarily affects young people.
Fact: Not entirely a myth. Some cancers do disproportionally affect younger people, but, kidney cancer is not one of them. The average age of diagnosis being 64. Thought present Indian study suggests more prevalence in the younger population with one-third being less than 50years of age. Having said that changing lifestyle and food habits, more executive health check-ups lead to diagnosis of kidney cancers at an early stage and in younger generations. Familial cancers are a rare entity where early age could be affected.
Myth: Kidney cancer is rare.
Fact: Kidney cancer is one of the ten most common cancers in both men and women. Early cancers are picked up by the increase in the health check-ups done annually.
Myth: Smoking does not contribute to Kidney cancer.
Fact: In fact – smoking doubles the risk of developing kidney cancer – and is believed to cause about 30% of kidney cancers in men and about 25% in women.
Myth: Women are at higher risk of developing kidney cancer.
Fact: Kidney cancer is about twice as common in men as in women. Why? Increased smoking and exposure to cancer-causing toxins at the workplace may account for much of the difference.
Myth: Blood in the urine is a sure indication of kidney cancer.
Fact: Blood-coloured or burgundy urine can be a symptom of kidney cancer – but it can also be a sign of noncancerous conditions like a urinary tract infection (UTI). The underlying message is that it should not be overlooked or neglected. However, while red-coloured urine should never be ignored simultaneously, do not think it means cancer always.
Myth: Your kidneys are fine if you have no obvious discomfort like difficulty urinating.
Fact: Lack of external symptoms does not mean that a person does not have kidney disease. Why? Because kidney conditions typically do not present any symptoms until they have progressed to an advanced stage. If you do have symptoms – be sure to consult a doctor or healthcare provider.
Myth: Kidney cancers are not curable
Fact: With the available diagnostic modalities, kidney cancer can be picked up at an early stage, and kidney-sparing surgeries can be offered. This can help a patient avoid losing his kidney and have a near-normal life with regular follow-up.
Myth: Kidney cancer amounts to the removal of the entire kidney always.
Fact: No. With a better understanding of the disease process and newer technology, entire kidney need not be removed. Only the tumour is removed, and the kidney remains in the body. This is called kidney-sparing surgery.
Myth: Kidney cancer can’t be diagnosed early.
Fact: With increasing health awareness and people resorting to annual check-ups, kidney cancers can be picked by even routine ultrasound and urine tests. Early diagnosis leads to earlier treatment and prolonged life for the patient. Everyone needs to vigilant.
Myth: Kidney cancers are not hereditary.
Fact: Meagre percentage of kidney cancers can be familial (2-3%). Patients with a family history of kidney cancers should be vigilant and seek advice from their physician.
Myth: Robotic surgery in kidney cancer has no advantages.
Fact: Robotic platform provides increased magnification and dexterity to a surgeon in performing kidney surgeries, especially kidney-sparing surgeries. The 10x magnification improves accuracy & precision of surgery, amounting to lesser blood loss, early return to routine work/job, and better cancer outcomes for the patients in the long term.
Myth: Robotic surgery is costly as compared to laparoscopic or open surgery.
Fact: The IRDAI, India’s insurance regulatory authority, has approved the inclusion of robotic surgery in insurance coverage. Maximum people can take advantage of this technology which is already established in the world around. Moreover, when we compare surgery costs, we do not consider the costs that the patient faces for being hospitalized for a long time after an open surgery or the costs due to late return to the job, which we call disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
Myth: Kidney cancer patients should refrain from taking the flu vaccine.
Fact: Patients with kidney cancer should receive the influenza vaccine, whichever is recommended as per their national guidelines. Many of our patients with kidney cancer are receiving targeted treatments or immunotherapies and they tolerate the influenza vaccine well without having any complications. But, as always, they should follow the advice of their treating physician.
Treatment at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital
Avail of world-class technology and surgical expertise in treating even the most complex cases of kidney cancer at our Centre for Cancer. Since kidney cancer needs a multidisciplinary team approach, we have a tumour board made up of uro-oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, oncopathologists, and radiologists who make decisions based on international guidelines. The uro-oncology service of the Centre for Cancer has performed over 250 kidney cancer surgeries in the past and now is also equipped with the Da Vinci Robotic System.