​Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer develops when healthy cells present in kidney, change and grow abnormally, forming a tumour.

In adults, the most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma.

The first warning sign of kidney cancer is blood in the urine (haematuria). You may see this as a pink, brown or red discoloration. The blood is episodic and is usually painless.

You may also experience loin pain, on one side of the abdomen (area above the pelvis, and below the ribs in the abdomen). The onset of the pain and can range from a dull ache or a sharp pang, and usually lasts for weeks.

You might start feeling tired more often. This fatigue will be easy to differentiate as it is usually unresolved by sleep and starts to affect your performance during the day. This may cause weakness.

You may also experience fever, not caused by cold or flu.

The onset of cancer will leave you having a loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

Upon examination by a doctor, you might be able to discover an abdominal mass in the kidneys area.

During the advanced stages of the cancer, you start to notice swelling in your ankles and legs. You may also experience bone pain.

Visit a doctor immediately if you see traces of blood in your urine. Although blood in urine is not always indicative of cancer, the doctor will carry out further investigations to rule out the possibility. Blood loss in the urine may lead to decreased haemoglobin  and consequential fatigue. If unresolved fatigue is bothering your performance, make an appointment with our consultant working with the Kidney and Bladder Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi.

In the case of the perpetual persistence of a flank pain near the kidneys, or if you can feel an abnormal mass near the kidneys, visit the team medical specialists working with the Oncology Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. 

Kidney cancer is often difficult to detect in the early stages, due to lack of visible evidences. Therefore, if you seem to experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, visit a doctor immediately.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so makes sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

If you are showing any symptoms of kidney cancer, you will be asked for your medical history especially the incidence of kidney cancer in your family. This is followed by a physical examination by the medical examiner. In the event of abnormal results, you will be asked to take a urinalysis test. An ultrasound abdomen may initially show tumor in the kidney. However, a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the abdomen is the most accurate way to look for tumor in the kidney and helps in planning further treatment.

If you are diagnosed with kidney cancer, you will be offered a number of treatments to choose from.

  • If detected in the earlier stages, you might need to undergo surgical removal of the tumour. Depending upon the size and location of tumour, your doctor will decide whether it will be sufficient to remove only part of kidney or take out the whole kidney. 

  • Surgical removal of the whole kidney and tumour can also be offered in case the cancer has spread outside the kidney.

  • In selected cases especially if the tumour is small and in a favourable location you may be given the option of radiofrequency ablation. In this treatment a needle is placed in tumor under ultrasound guidance and it is ablated using radiofrequency waves.

  • You may also need a targeted therapy in addition to surgery. This treatment targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissues that contribute to its growth, thereby diminishing it. Targeted therapy is increasingly gaining popularity for the treatment of kidney cancer.

  • Your doctor can also decide whether you will benefit from Immunotherapy or biologic therapy to counter the cancerous growth. This treatment boosts the body’s defense mechanism either naturally or artificially, to help its white blood cells to restore the immune system.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.