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A Kidney Cancer Diagnosis Can Be Complicated and Overwhelming

young doctor talking to old patient
young doctor talking to old patient
christine collins

Christine Collins

Executive Director, Kidney Cancer Canada

Kidney Cancer Canada helps to inform patients and caregivers on necessary details about the disease and provides information and support to navigate through their cancer journey.

Kidney cancer can be a silent disease. Often there are no symptoms until it’s advanced and found incidentally by ultrasound or scan. When diagnosed at a more advanced stage, the options for treatment can be challenging.

Suggested causes of kidney cancer are smoking, obesity or family history. Symptoms can be flank or back pain, a lump or a thickening, and blood in the urine.

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The diagnosis of a kidney mass doesn’t automatically mean that it’s kidney cancer. It’s possible that it’s a benign growth and doing a biopsy, or having it surgically removed, would determine the pathology and the type, stage, and grade of the mass and subsequently the next steps required. If the tumour is relatively small and localized (early stage), active surveillance with close monitoring and regular diagnostic tests, or surgery to completely remove the tumour are the most common treatments. There are options of surgery methods, depending on the size, position, and complexity of the tumour and is performed by a urologist or uro-oncologist.

When the cancer is advanced, treatment opportunities are different and immunotherapy drugs offer excellent options for cancer that has spread. Systemic treatment would be prescribed and monitored by an oncologist and could be used in conjunction with surgery or radiation therapy.

Kidney cancer is a unique disease. There’s no cure, but there are many patients living and thriving. How the disease and treatment affect one patient can be completely different for another. It’s vital for Canadians diagnosed with or caring for someone with kidney cancer to educate themselves about the disease and treatment options so they can make the best possible decisions with their doctor for their individual situation.

Kidney Cancer Canada can help! We are a national community of patients, caregivers, and health professionals who work together to provide every Canadian touched by kidney cancer with support, information, education, and advocacy for treatment options. Programs and services are bilingual. Our website has a wealth of information, including our Video Knowledge Library presented by kidney cancer specialists from across Canada.

Resources are available on nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and stress management and one-to-one peer support and our Coffee Chats offer a safe environment for patients and caregivers to talk, share experiences, and discuss all topics.

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