Nephrology is an important medical specialization not just for kidney cancer patients but also for those that have other cancer types, since oncological illnesses may harm kidney function. Find out more.
Nephrology is a medical specialization dedicated to diagnose and clinical treatment of urinary tract illnesses, specially kidney-related issues, and its specialized doctor is the nephrologist. Among several other activities, preventing kidney illnesses, diagnosing and treating hypertension or urinary tract infections and performing kidney transplants are part of a nephrologist’s work. Kidneys aren’t just responsible for blood filtering and cleansing, but also BPA regulation and hormonal functions.
This is an important medical specialization not just for kidney cancer patients but also for those that have other cancer types, since oncological illnesses may harm kidney function. These organs may be affected not only by chemotherapy but also by painkillers, which oftentimes are essential for patients’ well-being.
In this sense, it’s fundamental for cancer patients to be monitored by a multidisciplinary medical team, including a nephrologist, especially in cases of kidney dysfunction. This professional may know and monitor patient history and habits, such as liquids consumption, urine related complaints, UTI episodes and chronic issues.
Performing simple exams such as urine sample testing and measuring blood creatinine may reveal whether the organs are functional or if there’s any kidney issues. Creatinine is a substance that the kidneys constantly eliminate. If the test accuses a buildup, it’s a sign that something isn’t working well.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), kidney cancer is among the twenty most common cancer types in the world, with an incidence of 4,6 per 100 thousand inhabitants. Kidney cancer is also known as hypernephroma or renal adenocarcinoma. The most common kind is clear cell kidney cancer, responsible for 85% of diagnosed tumors. Since it doesn’t present symptoms, this kind of cancer is usually discovered by chance or when already in an advanced stage.
According to Oncoguia Institute data, there’s 10 thousand yearly diagnosed cases in Brazil. Just like any other cancer type, the earliest treatment starts, the higher the chances of a full recovery, which reinforces the need for frequent prevention and monitoring with a nephrologist.
In general, these tumors can be identified through exams such as sonograms and MRI scans. Kidney cancer treatment depends on tumor size and stage. If it still hasn’t spread to other organs, there’s a possibility of surgical intervention, with partial or full kidney removal. When the illness is metastatic, therapy has to be more severe, monitored by professionals of different fields such as oncologists, urologists and nephrologists.
Prevention is the way
Only an average of 10% kidney cancer cases are diagnosed after patient complaints of pain or blood in urine or some noticeable abdominal lump. Therefore, the best way to recognize these cancer types is through preventive appointments and exams.
According to WHO, between 30% and 50% of cancer cases could have been prevented. In this sense, it’s recommended for patients over 40 to take yearly nephrologist appointments, along with urine tests and blood creatinine counts.
Patient history aside, other risk factors for kidney cancer are smoking, hypertension and obesity. According to the National Cancer Institute (INCA), more than 40% of Universal Healthcare System (SUS) expenses in oncology therapies were directed towards treatments for cancer types related to excess weight, including kidney cancer. Therefore, keeping healthy habits such as a smoking-free daily life, physical activity and healthy eating is fundamental.