​Renal Cell Carcinoma​

There are two kidneys in a human body, responsible for removing impurities from the body. There are tiny tubes in the kidney called renal tubules which filter the blood and remove the waste and excessive water from it. Renal cell carcinoma is the cancer that occurs in the lining of these renal tubules.

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults that often spreads to the lungs and surrounding organs. It is mostly found in men between the ages of 50 and 70. The exact cause of this cancer is unknown but certain risk factors associated with it include:

  • Family history of renal cell carcinoma

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • High blood pressure

  • Dialysis treatment

  • Polycystic kidney disease (an inherited disorder in which cysts form in the kidneys)

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease (an inherited disorder in which tumours and cysts form in various body organ​s)

Symptoms that may occur due to renal cell carcinoma include:

  • Persistent abdominal pain

  • Blood in the urine

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Lump in the abdomen

  • Fatigue

  • Vision problems

  • Excessive hair growth (in women)​

Timely consultation with a doctor can ensure early detection of the disease and successful treatment. You can consult a specialist working with the Oncology Service Line​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.​

First your doctor may inquire about your medical history followed by a physical exam that can reveal a mass in the abdomen and vericocele (enlarged veins in the scrotal sac) in men. You may be asked to get the following tests conducted as well: 

  • Blood test to determine the levels of creatinine in the blood. High levels of creatinine indicates that the kidneys are not functioning properly

  • A Complete Blood Count (CBC) that will tell details about your blood composition

  • Urine test to detect the presence of blood in the urine

  • Ultrasound of the kidneys to detect the presence of tumours

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and/or Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to detect the spread of the cancer

  • Biopsy in which a sample of the tumour is extracted to be studied under the microscope​

The treatment will depend on your age, general health and your personal preferences. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery to remove part of the kidney (partial nephrectomy) or the entire kidney along with the adrenal glands, lymph nodes and surrounding affected tissues (radical nephrectomy). This is usually the first course of action for patients with kidney cancer.

  • Chemotherapy in which drugs, taken orally or injected, are used to kill the cancerous cells

  • Radiation therapy in which high-energy X-rays or other radiations are used to kill the cancerous cells, applied externally over your body using a machine or by placing a radiation-filled device such as needles, seeds, wires or catheters, directly inside or near the cancer

  • Biological therapy in which the patient’s immune system is stimulated, using drugs administered intravenously, so that it attacks the cancer cells and reduces the rate of spreading as well as the tumour size.

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.