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As with pancreatic cancer, most kidney cancers are diagnosed by coincidence


On the occasion of World Kidney Day, MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid would like to draw attention to one of the most deadly kidney diseases: kidney cancer. With an incidence rate of 3% in this country, it is among the ten most common, prevalent cancers in Spain, according to the latest report from the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM). “It is not as common as breast cancer or prostate cancer, nor as deadly as pancreatic cancer, but we must not forget that it is one of the most serious tumors in existence”, states Dr. Carlos Nuñez, head of the Urologic Surgery Service at MD Anderson Madrid.


The problem with this type of tumor is that, as with pancreatic tumors, it is usually diagnosed by coincidence. So, despite there being a classical symptom triad (pain in the side or lumbar region, blood in urine and a palpable lump), the reality is that these symptoms are an indication of an already advanced stage of the disease, but, fortunately, most of the time this type of cancer is diagnosed earlier during a routine check up, usually when an ultrasound is carried out on a patient with gastrointestinal problems.


The survival rate of kidney cancer can be quite high if the tumor is diagnosed and treated early on. “Survival in cases of tumors spotted accidentally in an ultrasound or in tumors measuring less than 4 centimeters is almost 100%”, points out Dr. Nuñez, who goes on to say that, in these cases, it is not necessary to remove the whole kidney, and so kidney function is really quite well preserved.


Stopping smoking and following a balanced diet are the best ways to prevent kidney cancer in general, recommendations to which we must add “having an abdominal ultrasound every four or five years after 40 when there is a family history of this type of cancer”, explains the specialist.


In addition, syndromes like von Hippel-Lindau, neurofibromatosis or multiple endocrine neoplasms are also associated with a higher risk of developing kidney cancer in the future. But, in spite of all this, kidney cancer specialists are optimistic about both the new treatments that have appeared on the market in recent years and, above all, about the results obtained in immunotherapy research on this type of tumor.


To learn more about kidney cancer and its prevention, diagnosis and treatment, we offer you the chance to talk to Dr. Carlos Nuñez, head of the Urologic Surgery Service at MD Anderson Madrid.