Malignant tumors in the kidneys often become noticeable late. Possible symptoms include back pain and blood in the urine or nonspecific complaints such as fatigue, fever and weight loss. Every year, more than 15, 000 people in Germany contract cancer in the kidneys and urinary tract. Above all older people between 65 and 75 years are affected.
Development of kidney cancer
There is no kidney tumor, but the cancerous tissue can be very different. In the kidney area, 85% of renal cell carcinomas are present in adults and in children predominantly Wilms' tumors. Malignant changes in the renal pelvis do not originate from the kidney cells but from the mucous membrane of the urinary tract, and thus correspond to the cancers that predominantly occur in the bladder.
As diverse as the tissue of origin are the possible causes; Often, however, as with other cancers, no special triggers are found. In principle, various mechanisms are conceivable, eg physical, chemical, hormonal and infectious factors; Kidney cancer also a hereditary component. In addition, there are a number of factors known to increase the risk of kidney cancer:
- By far the most important risk factor is regular smoking. The kidneys filter harmful substances from the blood on a daily basis, including those that pass into the blood when smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars. Constant contact with these carcinogenic pollutants doubles the risk of developing kidney cancer.
- The same applies to the long-term use of painkillers. However, the phenazine-containing drugs, in which kidney cancer was particularly prevalent, have been withdrawn from the market for several years.
- Another risk factor is obesity - especially in women (presumably due to the hormone shift caused by it); in men, the type of fat distribution is more likely to play a role.
- High levels of alcohol consumption, a high-fat diet, too little fluid intake (due to the reduced flushing of the kidneys and an increased concentration of harmful substances) and certain congenital diseases such as cystic kidney or chronic kidney dysfunction seem to increase the risk of kidney cancer.
- The extent to which substances such as halogenated hydrocarbons or cadmium play a role, especially in occupations that are frequently exposed to them, has not been definitively clarified.
Symptoms of kidney cancer
Unfortunately, complaints often occur late and are rather unspecific. The following signs should be clarified promptly by a doctor:
- Blood in the urine: Bleeding is not always recognizable as such - sometimes the urine is only darker than usual. Women also misinform the signs of menopause. Some bleeding can not be detected with the naked eye, but only with the help of test strips.
- Rather one-sided pain in the flank can be signs of kidney cancer, especially if there is a palpable thickening.
- Unspecific symptoms that persist for a long period of time and for which no cause can be identified, such as constant fatigue, nocturnal sweating attacks, blood pressure fluctuations, high calcium levels, weight loss and intestinal problems may indicate harmless but also serious chronic diseases.