A high–fat diet and obesity are thought to present an increased risk of RCC.
Over time, kidney patients who must be treated with long–term dialysis may develop cysts in their kidneys. While most cysts are not life–threatening, they are considered a risk factor for RCC.
Though there is no conclusive proof that estrogens cause RCC in humans, tests have shown that animals can develop the disease when given estrogens.
Men are twice as likely to develop RCC than women.
Discovery and Prognosis of Renal Cell Carcinoma
Since RCCs can grow to a considerable size before they cause pain or discomfort. Most cases are discovered only after the disease has progressed to a dangerous level. Fortunately, however, many are discovered incidentally – typically when the patient undergoes medical tests for some other ailment. While the discovery usually comes as a shock to the patient, incidental discovery can be a blessing in disguise. This is because tumors discovered at this stage often are not too far advanced in their development and will respond well to treatment. Survival rates in such cases are high. The prognosis is less optimistic when tumors have grown enough to produce symptoms. Often such cancers have metastasized; that is, begun spreading to other organs. Survival rates in such cases are diminished.
Overall, the five–year survival rate for Renal Cell Carcinoma – all stages combined – is about 40 to 45 per cent.
Signs and Symptoms of Renal Cell Carcinoma
The major symptoms of RCC are:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria).
- Pain in the flank (side) or lower back not associated with an injury.
- An abdominal mass or lump in the belly.
- A persistent feeling of fatigue.
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss.
- Fever not caused by a cold or flu, and
- Swelling of the legs and ankles.
If the physician suspects the patient’s symptoms are caused by RCC, he or she is likely to prescribe a series of examinations, procedures and laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Physical Examination and Medical History
The process usually starts with a thorough physical examination to assess the patient’s overall health and gather as much information as possible about his or her symptoms. A medical history check also will be performed to determine if any known risk factors associated with RCC are present.