World Kidney Cancer Day - June18th, 2020

by Jane Ashley

June 18th, 2020, is World Kidney Cancer Day. This year’s theme — “We need to talk about physical activity” — seems even more important now as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic for the foreseeable future. Why?

World Kidney Cancer Day 2020

Around the world, every person is grappling with what’s safe to do. Is it safe to go to the gym? Is it safe to be outside in parks or on trails? We’re evaluating our risk for COVID-19 and trying to find a balance to have quality-of-life and remain healthy.

Why is the International Kidney Cancer Coalition (IKCC) emphasizing physical activity?

Physical activity can lower the risk of developing kidney cancer by up to 22%. That’s impressive, and with physical activity, we also reduce our risk of many other kinds of cancer too.

For kidney cancer patients, physical activity reduces fatigue and helps relieve anxiety and depression. Regular activity improves the outcome of treatment, yet studies show that three out of every four kidney cancer patients, worldwide, don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity.

Walk To Your Mailbox

How much activity do we need? U.S. guidelines suggest 150 minutes a week – that’s a 30-minute moderate walk five days a week. Other experts suggest that just three 30-minute walks are enough. Can’t do 30 minutes at one time? Break it up into two 15-minute walks or three 10-minute strolls. Just get moving — a modest investment for such a big health return.

Kidney Cancer Facts

Our kidneys are essential to life; they filter toxins out of our bodies, regulate blood pressure, and remove excess fluid from our bodies by excreting urine. We can’t live without at least one functioning kidney, even if it’s functioning at a reduced level.

Over 400,000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed annually throughout the world. Over 73,000 cases occur every year in the U.S. — about 45,500 men and 28,250 women.

Symptoms. Kidney cancer’s symptoms are subtle and vague in its early stages:

• Blood in the urine
• High blood pressure
• Back pain
• Fatigue
• Anemia
• Poor appetite, often accompanied by weight loss

Because these symptoms are vague and because there isn’t a screening test for kidney cancer, it is often only diagnosed in more advanced stages, including having spread to other parts of our body. In the developed world, at least one-quarter of kidney cancer patients are Stage IV at diagnosis. In developing countries, the percentage of metastatic kidney cancer is even higher.

Risk factors. Some of the risk factors can be modified, while some are factors that we can’t control.

• Smoking — almost doubles our risk for kidney cancer
• Gender — men are 2-to-3 times more likely to develop kidney cancer than women
• Race — black people develop kidney cancer more frequently
• Age — most patients are over 50
• High blood pressure — men, in particular, who have high blood pressure are more likely to have kidney cancer
• Family history — people with a first-degree relative who had kidney cancer are at increased risk for cancer of the kidney
• Cadmium — people who work with batteries, paint or welding supplies are more likely to develop kidney cancer
Genetics. About 5% of kidney cancer cases are linked to genetics — these conditions predispose a person to the development of kidney cancer.
• Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome — about 40% of people with VHL develop clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC)

Several other rare genetic syndromes can put people at increased risk. If there is a family history of renal cancer, you may want to talk to a genetic specialist to see if genetic testing is indicated by your family history.

Kidney Cancer Awareness

How is kidney cancer treated?

Usually, patients have a multidisciplinary team — the team usually includes not only a medical oncologist but a urologist (specializes in the kidney and bladder) and possibly a radiology oncologist, and often, a surgeon. Just as in other cancers, treatment options depend on the stage of the patient’s cancer.

• Active surveillance. Some patients have a very small tumor that is creating very few symptoms, or a patient may be older with pre-existing conditions — in these cases, careful watching and waiting until symptoms occur may be all that is needed.
• Surgery. If a patient’s tumor has not spread beyond their kidney, then removal of the tumor or removal of the entire kidney might be the only treatment that is needed.
• Non-surgical intervention. Radiofrequency ablation is where a needle is inserted into the tumor to kill it with an electrical current. RA might be utilized for very sick patients or patients in active surveillance. Another option is cryoablation, a procedure that freezes cancer cells with a metal probe.
• Medication. Treatments may consist of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, depending on each patient’s particular circumstances.
• Radiation. Radiation is used most often for symptom relief, such as bone pain or if cancer has spread to the patient’s brain.
To learn more about kidney cancer, its diagnosis and treatment, contact the Kidney Cancer Association.

To learn more about kidney cancer, its diagnosis and treatment, contact the Kidney Cancer Association.

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