Archive for the ‘Kidney Cancer’ Category

Wilms’ Tumor is an Aggressive Cancer of the Kidneys Found in Children

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

There are various diseases and conditions that can affect the kidneys. Some of these conditions are life-threatening and can have serious consequences. One of these conditions primarily affects children and can lead to long-term medical care.

Wilms’ tumor is a rare kidney cancer that usually will affect children up to age 6. This condition is also known as nephroblastoma and it is the most common malignant tumor of the kidneys. Typically a child will be inflicted this disease between the ages of three and four. Usually one kidney will be affected but there is a chance both kidneys can be affected. Immature kidney cells are what are believed to be the cause of Wilms’ tumor. If you notice symptoms of this disease, it can help you determine whether or not your child is inflicted with it.

There are many different symptoms of Wilms’ tumor but sometimes a child could have the disease without knowing it. Wilms’ tumor might end up not getting detected at an early stage because the tumors might not be painful. Sometimes a tumor can develop quite large on a child and they might not experience any pain associated with the growth. Even though the tumors may get large, usually they will be found before they spread to other parts of the body. Your child might exhibit symptoms such as abdominal swelling, fever, blood in the urine, an abdominal mass, loss of appetite and high blood pressure. Stomach pains, nausea and constipation are also symptoms that your child might have if Wilms’ tumor is present. Some children might not develop any symptoms at all during the presence of this disease, so a diagnosis might not be made until it is more noticeable. You should take your child to see a doctor if you notice any mass in their abdomen or if you see blood in their urine. The other symptoms could be attributed to many different conditions, but your child should see a doctor as soon as they develop.

There is no exact cause of this medical condition but some people believe it happens when the child is in the womb. During this time, some of the cells that form the kidneys fail or develop improperly. When the cells fail or develop improperly, this will lead to the formation of tumors instead of normal cells. Usually by the time a child is about three or four, the tumors will become evident. There might also be changes in the child’s genes that control growth. The cancer could be caused by the genetic defect that is passed from a parent to child during fertilization. Some cases of Wilms’ tumor are related to a defect one of two different genes. Wilms’ tumor one and Wilms’ tumor two is how the disease is classified, depending on which gene is defective. Sometimes Wilms’ tumor is caused by an unknown event during early childhood development. If a gene is somehow changed during early childhood, this could lead to the cancer forming in the child’s body.

Wilms’ tumor usually has no clear risk factor but some things have become clear about the condition. Usually Wilms’ tumor will occur more in girls than boys, and black children are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Asian-American children are the group that is rarely affected by the disease. If someone in the family of the child has Wilms’ tumor, then that child will have a higher risk of developing it. Wilms’ tumor might also happen more frequently in children who have presented with other abnormalities. Some of these abnormalities include aniridia, hemi hypertrophy, undescended testicles and hypospadias. Aniridia is when the iris forms partially or not at all. Hemi hypertrophy is when one side of the body is very noticeably larger than the other. When you have undescended testicles, one or both of the testicles do not descend into the scrotum. Hypospadias is when the urinary opening is underneath the penis rather than on the tip of it.

There are various tests that the doctor will do to determine whether or not your child has Wilms’ tumor. A physical examination will be done to determine whether or not there are obvious signs of the cancer. Blood and urine tests are used to get a general idea of your child’s overall health. The blood and urine tests do not tell whether or not the cancer is present, but can indicate red and white cell levels in the child’s body. The blood and urine tests will also be able to rule out or confirm other possible diseases and cancers. An ultrasound might also be used during diagnostic testing to look for a tumor present. Computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging might be used also during the testing stage to determine whether a tumor is present in the kidneys.

Once your child’s doctor has confirmed the diagnosis then they can better tell you what stage of cancer it is. Knowing the stage of the cancer in your child can help you determine what treatment options would be the best for a good outcome. Stage one is when the cancer is just in the kidneys and it can be completely removed through surgery. Stage two is when the cancer has spread to surrounding structures and tissues near the kidney. Complete removal of the cancer is possible at stage two and the outcome is still very good. Stage three is when the cancer spreads from the kidney to surrounding lymph nodes or other structures in your child’s body. The cancer will usually be found in other locations in the abdomen and it can not always be completely removed with surgery. Stage four occurs when the cancer has spread to other parts of your child’s body that are further away from the kidney. Stage four might include the cancer spreading to the lungs or brain of your child, and surgery might not be a viable option. When your child is diagnosed with stage five then you are looking at cancer which has affected both kidneys. In stage five, there are limited things that can be done for treatment because usually the cancer has progressed too far for complete removal.

Treatment for Wilms’ tumor usually will involve your child undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. The stage and appearance of the cancer will also determine whether or not radiation therapy is needed as well. The doctor might tell you whether or not the child’s tumor has a favorable or unfavorable histology. If the histology is favorable this means that there is a better chance your child will survive the tumor. An unfavorable histology usually will indicate a decreased chance for a good outcome. It is possible though that a child with an unfavorable outcome can actually beat the cancer. The surgical removal of the kidney tissues is called nephrectomy and there are three different variations of this removal. A simple nephrectomy is when the entire kidney is removed by a doctor, leaving one kidney to filter the blood by itself. A partial nephrectomy is when the tumor itself is removed along with part of the tissues surrounding it. The partial is performed only when the other kidney has been removed or damaged. A radial nephrectomy is when the doctor will remove the kidney and surrounding tissues such as the ureter and adrenal gland. The lymph nodes that surround the cancerous tissues might also be removed as a precaution. The doctor will most likely look at both kidneys and surrounding tissues during surgery to determine exactly the extent of the cancer. The internal examination will also help the doctor figure out which tissues need to be removed and which tissues and organs are still functioning properly. The doctor will also inspect surrounding tissues for signs of cancer and then samples of other tissues might be taken for analysis. A child will need dialysis if both kidneys need to be removed until the child is healthy enough for a kidney transplant. The tumor cells will also be examined under a microscope to determine whether the cancer cells are aggressive or if they would respond to chemotherapy.

When someone gets cancer, they are often referred to chemotherapy for treatment. Chemotherapy is a process that uses medications to kill the cancer cells within the body and it affects rapidly dividing cells. This is why people who get chemotherapy often have side effects such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. A low white blood cell count might also be a side effect from the chemotherapy treatment and medications. Before your child starts chemotherapy, it is a good idea to ask the doctor what side effects might occur so that you can discuss those with your child. You might also see if any medications are available to treat the various side effects such as nausea and vomiting. The doctor should also go over with you the various long-term complications that your child might have from the cancer and treatment.

Radiation therapy is also used during treatment of many forms of cancer including Wilms’ tumor. X-rays and other high-energy rays are used to help kill the cancer cells that are in the body. Radiation is usually started less than a week after a surgical removal of the cancer and it requires you to be very still. If the child is very young, a sedative might be used to ensure that the child does remain still through the course of treatment. The area to be treated will be highlighted with a special dye and areas that do not need radiation are shielded. This means that only the area where the cancer cells are located get the radiation treatment while healthy areas remain unaffected. Nausea, fatigue and skin irritation might be possible side effects of radiation therapy. If the abdomen is the area getting radiation therapy, it is not uncommon for diarrhea to occur for a few days afterward. You could always ask your child’s doctor to prescribe or suggest a medication to you for the diarrhea symptoms.

Treatments for Wilms’ tumor often depend upon the stage of the cancer as well as age and general health of the child. Stage one or stage two is often treated just by surgery and radiation afterward. This is often the treatment as long as the cancer has not spread and as long as the cancer is not aggressive. Stage two cancers might be treated using radiation therapy if the cancer has not spread to surrounding tissues. Stage three and stage four cancers are treated with surgery and chemotherapy as well as radiation. If the cancer has not spread to the abdomen and if surgery removed it completely, then radiation might not be needed. Chemotherapy might be used on your child before the surgery to help reduce the size of the tumor and possibly eliminate the need for radiation. Stage five cancer treatment usually requires a more in-depth approach. If the tumor cells are in both of the kidneys then part of the cancer is removed during the first surgery. Lymph node tissue samples will be taken at that time to determine whether or not they are affected as well. Chemotherapy will then be used to shrink the tumors that are left in the kidneys before anything else is done. A follow-up surgery is required to remove as much of the remaining tumor as the doctor can get. The doctor will leave some of the kidney tissues behind so that the kidneys can function properly. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment will probably follow the second surgery.

No two children are the same when it comes to cancer and treatment options available to them. Some children will have a hard time adjusting to treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, while other children have no issues at all. You want to discuss all treatment options and side effects with your child’s doctor to determine the best course of action. You also want to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of each procedure before you give your consent for them to be administered on your child. It is also a good idea to talk to your child about Wilms’ tumor and about the effects of cancer and treatment.

A child’s prognosis will likely depend on the severity of the tumor, type of tumor and the stage of the cancer. If you get an early diagnosis then your child will have a better chance at recovery and living a healthy life. The most important thing to remember about Wilms’ tumor is that your child will develop signs of the cancer by the time they are six. Be aware of any changes in your child and report them to a doctor immediately so that a proper diagnosis can be made. When it comes to cancer of the kidney, early detection is vital for a successful treatment and prognosis.

Mayo Clinic Staff, “Wilms’ Tumor”, Mayo Clinic

What is Acquired Cystic Kidney Disease?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Acquired cystic kidney disease occurs in adults and children, typically to people with chronic kidney disease. The disease has the kidneys developing sacs of fluid called renal cysts. Dialysis increases the risk of this disease.

Symptoms

There are few signs and symptoms of this disease. There may be back pain, chills, and fever if the cysts become infected. If they start to bleed, there may be blood in the urine.

Dialysis Statistics

For people that are just beginning their dialysis treatment, 20 percent already have acquired cystic kidney disease. 60 to 80 percent of the ones that have been on dialysis for four years have the disease. And at the eight year stage of dialysis, 90 percent have the condition.

Diagnosis

Imaging tests are given to diagnose the condition, as the cysts show up on them well. They can order a CT, or computerized tomography scan, to get a three dimensional look at the kidneys. An ultrasound is something that is ordered to look at the shape and the size of the kidneys. An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging test, can also be able to tell tumors and cysts that are in the kidney.

Treatment

If the cysts are not infected, bleeding, or causing discomfort and pain, the best treatment is for them to be left alone. If there is pain, they can drain them by a needle. If there is infection, antibiotics can be administered. There should be screenings for kidney cancer as part of the long term treatment plant. If a person on dialysis, even long term, gets a new kidney, the cysts usually goes away.

Source: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

The Social Psychology of Elderly Suicide

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

In the following, the principles of social psychology will be implemented to determine the contributing factors that lead to elderly suicide, a growing concern throughout the world, but more particularly, the United States.

Introduction

Essentially, social psychology involves understanding how human behavior and thoughts are influenced by members or groups within a society. Social psychology in concept is still relatively new. However, it is a primary tool in seeking appropriate meaning and interpretation for human perceptions, comprehensions and interpretations of the global society. In retrospect, social psychology is largely research-oriented and less concerned with creating real-world applications (CTU Online, 2009). This approach in contrast to the clinical approach in which research is used to appropriate treatment measures for psychopathological clients. Another significant contrast lies in that clinical psychology is centered on understanding the behaviors of human beings as independent persons from their social environment, whereas social psychology evaluates how social influences affect individual perceptions and behaviors (CTU Online, 2009). So, with this in mind, can social psychology be used to define and analyze the contributing factors of elderly suicide?

Contributing Factors of Elderly Suicide

Suicide is typically an outcome that can be attributed to any combination of acute factors. Where suicide is considered an impulsive act at any age, elder suicide is often a grim outcome derived from the manifestation of tendencies experienced over an extended period of time. In the United States, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the nation. What is more alarming is that eleven deaths per 100.000 Americans are suicides carried out by white males aged 65 and older, almost triple that of the national average (Yin, 2009).

Loss and mourning

Life events can trigger suicidal thoughts and often involve the loss of a loved one and/or pet. In these situations, bereavement can last up to two years. It is during this period; elderly persons are most susceptible to suicide (Boksay, 1997).

Irreversible changes in lifestyle

Changes in retirement, a move from one’s home to a nursing facility or loss in mobility are it sudden or gradual, mechanical or physical, can also become a trigger for elderly suicide. In a broadcast for Northern Irelands BICNews 6 in December of 1997, Dr. Ivan Boksay stressed the importance of noticing early warning signs that may indicate suicidal tendencies in an elderly subject. Boksay further emphasized the heightened degree of risk elderly subjects were faced with given prior suicide attempts (Boksay, 1997).

Sleep disturbances

Recent research has indicated an intrinsic link between elderly suicide and sleep deprivation. Excessive loss in sleep can result in the manifestation of several problems. Older adults who suffer sleep loss are more likely to suffer from depression, memory loss, problems concentrating excessive daytime drowsiness, more injuries accrued during evening hours and the abuse of over-the-counter sleeping aids. This of course results in a poorer quality of life. Insomnia is among the highest of sleep complaints from persons aged 60 and older (Science Daily, 2007).

Conclusion

Of course, besides the contributing factors presented in this discussion, there are simply too many more to mention within the confines of this essay. However, to discount other factors such as smoking (People’s Daily Online, 2005) and drug and/or alcohol abuse (Boksay, 1997) would be remiss in the least. Because of the large number of factors associated with elderly suicide it is essential that those closest with elderly loved ones and companions to take a careful eye to their behaviors as they conclude the final chapters of their lives so that they may do so without risk of enduring such distress.

Summary

Social psychology primarily involves effectively interpreting human behavior as it relates to social influences. This approach differs from the more traditional clinical approach in which research is used to appropriate treatment measures for psychopathological clients. Furthermore, clinical psychology is centered on understanding the behaviors of human beings separate from their social environment, whereas social psychology evaluates how social influence directly affects individual perceptions and behaviors. In regards to elderly suicide, social psychologists have used their expertise to outline many of the contributing factors to manifestation of the tendencies thereof. In turn, early detection and treatment measures have been implemented in an attempt identify related problems before misery becomes tragedy for the families of these grief-laden individuals.

References

Boksay, I. (1997, December). Suicide rate among elderly rises as people live longer. Retrieved
January 8, 2009, from iol.ie: http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Health/health26.htm

CTU Online. (Ed.). (2009). Phase 1: Understanding Social Psychology [multimedia
presentation]. Colorado Springs, CO: CTU Online. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from CTU
Online, Virtual Campus, SOCL350-0901A-01: Social Psychology Multimedia Course
Material: https://campus.ctuonline.edu/MainFrame.aspx?ContentFrame=/Default.aspx

People’s Daily Online. (2005, January 21). Heavy smokers more likely to commit suicide.
Retrieved January 8, 2009, from peopledaily.com:
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200501/21/eng20050121_171464.html

Science Daily. (2007, June 15). Sleep Disturbances Among The Elderly Linked To Suicide.
Retrieved January 8, 2009, from sciencedaily.com:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070614085114.htm

Yin, S. (2009). Elderly White Men Afflicted by High Suicide Rates. Retrieved January 8, 2009,
from prb.org:
http://www.prb.org/Articles/2006/ElderlyWhiteMenAfflictedbyHighSuicideRates.aspx

The Hydrocelectomy: Surgery and Recovery

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

On July 27th, 2009, I had a Hydrocelectomy done. If you don’t know what a hydrocelectomy is, it’s a surgical procedure done to fix a hydrocele problem in the testes. A hydrocele is a sac of water surrounding the testicle. Hydroceles often don’t need surgery done on them, but if the scrotum becomes heavy, medical attention is needed. I noticed my right testicle getting bigger when I was around 10. As of 2009, I couldn’t take the heaviness anymore. I contacted a Urological Doctor and scheduled an appointment. This was back in June. He scheduled the surgery for the 27th of July.

When the 27th came, I was incredibly nervous. The nurses had me lay down in a bed, and they had me waiting for hours. After wards, the nurses finally came in and brought me to the Operation branch of the Hospital. I was more nervous than ever now. After about 10 minutes waiting in a corner, a few nurses came in and inserted an IV into my upper left arm. I hadn’t had surgery since I was 5, so I didn’t remember if it was going to hurt or not. The pain was a little pinch because they applied a local anesthetic before inserting the tube in.

Looking back at when I was 5 years old, I had kidney cancer in my right kidney. It was called a Wilms Tumor. I barely remember anything, but I do remember how terrified I was. If i went through chemo therapy, radiation, and other surgical procedures, I know I could totally go through this little surgery on my testicles that would take less than two hours. And by the way, the surgery I had when I was 5 lasted over 10 hours!

I’m still nervous laying in my bed with an IV in my arm. A doctor comes and injects morphine into the IV tube. I suddenly feel a rush of euphoria, and I feel calmer than ever. They bring me into the operating room, and the next thing I know, I’m waking up with my testicles a little sore. The surgery happened so fast, and I was glad I got through it all.

The first few days after the surgery, it was difficult to walk around the house. I had a limp, and I had to lay down for a majority of the day. After about a week, I was able to walk normally and do normal activities. After 2 weeks, I was able to start running and doing what I love. The doctors said I recover faster than most people, which is a very good thing.

If there’s any people out there who are thinking about getting a Hydrocelectomy, I highly recommend getting one. It is one of the easiest surgical procedures in the world, and you can go home the same day. There is going to be some swelling for a few weeks, but you will notice it getting better each day. Thanks for reading!

The Best Ways to Prevent Cancer and Some You Have Probably Never Heard Of

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Many women are concerned about getting cancer. In fact that is one of most common fears. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1.4 million Americans were diagnosed with invasive cancer last year. There is good news though. Thanks to improved screenings and earlier detection people are getting diagnosed sooner and living longer. Breast cancer survival rates have gone up. Also new cases of cancer , especially those that effect women are finally on the decline after rising for years. Scientist think that alot of the reason breast cancer rates have gone down is that many women stopped taking long term hormone therapy replacement, which has been shown to increase breast cancer risk. Also lung cancer rates are stabilizing due to the fact that smoking rates have been decreasing over the last 20 years.

This is good news, but the bad news is that there are a few cancers that are becoming more common in women, some of them are skin, thyroid, and kidney cancers. Doctors think that the rise in kidney cancer is due to obesity. However lifestyle habits have a huge impact on your chances of developing this disease. Genes do play a part in things but we all have a huge potential to lower our risk. Getting screenings often is very important because catching the disease in its early stages makes a great difference in survival rates.

So what exactly can you do to help reduce your chances of getting cancer? Fortunately for us all there are quite a few! Let us start with the ones that alot of people have probably never heard of. The first tip is to put sunscreen on before you get in your car, even in the mornings. There’s a higher incidence of left-sided skin cancers in drivers because the side and rear windows are made from glass that allows UVA rays to penetrate. Tip number two, and this is a surprising one, is to test your home for radon. This natural product of decaying uranium found in soil and rock is the number two cause of lung cancer. It results in about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Test kits are are very reasonable at $9.95 and can be purchased at nsc.org/issues/radon. Another not so commonly known tip is that women who have babies should breastfeed. If you have your first child after age 25 you have an increased risk of breast cancer, but scientist say that breastfeeding can help mitigate that risk.

And now on to the top more commonly known cancer fighting moves. First, stay at a healthy weight. Carrying excess body fat increases your risk for colon,kidney,pancreatic,esophageal, endometrial and post menopausal breast cancer. A healthy BMI, which is between 18.5 and 24.9 goes a long way in reducing your risk of cancer. Next simply add ten minutes of walking to your daily routine. That is all you need to start cutting your breast cancer risk. Increase the number of minutes and you’ll be doing even better. Forty-five to sixty minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week offers strong protection against breast and colon cancer. As to what you should be eating, make sure to get your five a day of fruits and vegetables. Also make sure to eat a variety of colors. This amount of vegetables and fruits combined with an overall healthy diet lowers the risk of many cancers such as lung, mouth, esophageal, stomach and colon cancer. Obviously don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. About 87 percent of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking. About a decade after you quit, your risk is cut at least in half, and the likelihood of other cancers, such as mouth, bladder and kidney cancer is greatly reduced. Alcohol also ups your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver and breast. Just a few drinks a week is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women. If you do drink make sure to limit yourself to only one a day.

So here are some great steps we can all do to help decrease our risk of cancer down the line. And don’t forget that even if you do get cancer early detection is the key so make sure you keep up your regular screenings and checkups.

Stage IV Kidney Cancer, Not Me..

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Stage IV Kidney Cancer, INOPERABLE, Kidney Cancer. Stage IV Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma, to be exact. Those were the words that came from the Oncologist who my husband and I had been sent to after finding a swollen lymph node above my left collarbone.

“I am very sorry. This is not good. It is the worst possible sub type of this category of cancer that you have been diagnosed with. So sorry…” our Oncologist told us.

Impossible, I thought to myself and asked her how this could be. You see, I had been under very close “observation” by a Urologist and a Nephrologist (Kidney Doctor) for about a year in a half. They had been “watching” the very same kidney that the main tumor was thought to be on. In fact, they had been watching me so closely that I had had at least a dozen scans, either CT’s or Ultrasounds, within those 20 months. How could this be?

My head was spinning as I watched my poor husband’s helpless looks. I was going over the events of the past 20 months in my head and recounting them for the Oncologist who had nothing to do with the mishandling of my health and, quite obviously, felt so compassionate for our situation. How could this have been missed?

“This shouldn’t have been missed.” The Oncologist said.

This kidney had been so closely scrutinized over the past 20 months because of a genetic disease that had been discovered. My grandmother had told me to watch out for symptoms of this disease, even though she had been diagnosed with it and lived a very long and healthy life. The disease was Polycystic Kidney Disease. There is almost nothing you can do about it if you get it. It is just one of those things that usually rears it’s ugly head around the age of 40. Mine began with the first symptom of high blood pressure, then, 6 month later the first cyst (at least that I could tell) appeared.

This cyst was a monster! I would lie down in bed at night and could feel a lump on my right flank. Feeling it was an understatement. I was a very healthy 115 pounds, so there was no mistaken this lump was there. I could practically grasp it in my hands! It was about the size of a medium potato. At the time, I had no idea what it could be, so I went to my family physician immediately. As soon as she examined me, she wasted no time sending me to have a CT scan which revealed a 10 cm cyst on my right kidney. I was referred to a Urologist right away and was given the option of aspirating the cyst in an attempt to make it go away. That failed. It returned within a month. That began the period of “observation” by my Urologist. I began seeing him about every 6 weeks, which included ultrasounds or CT’s so we could “watch it”. He, also, sent me to a Nephrologist to keep an eye on my kidney function. All of my appointments were routine. My kidney function was great and the cyst remained stable. I was told that I had nothing to worry about. These two Doctors would be watching me closely and would advise me if we needed to do anything else with the monster cyst.

Everything was fine until, during a routine ultrasound, the Radiologist reading the report discovered something very troubling, The once simple cyst and now become a solid mass with multiple septations. The Radiologist wrote on his report that he strongly suggested tissue diagnosis, or biopsy. Let me clarify…this was a full year before my cancer diagnosis. As I read the report, I did like everyone these days and I went to Google. My research quickly told my that he was suspicious that I may have cancer.
My husband and I were so confused. Together (we always went together), we went to see the Urologist to discuss the report. While we were there, he left the examination room to personally call the Radiologist in what we found out later to be an attempt to get him to change his report. When he returned to see us, I specifically remember asking him if this could be cancer and he emphatically said “No.”. I had nothing to worry about. My kidney function was terrific and I should just continue on with the same routine of periodic scans and consults with him.

This did not sit right with neither my husband or I, so I took the report to my Nephrologist to discuss. Again, my husband and I went together. I handed him the report. After a short glance, he handed it back to me and repeated what the Urologist said “I had nothing to worry about. No cancer.”. Both physicians believed that it only turned into a solid mass because they had “messed with it” during aspiration.

Now, my husband and I were very naive and trusted these two professionals. They put us at ease and I was able to put the scary report out of my mind for a year. I just did as I was told and continued to have CT’s and Ultrasounds, even an MRI as ordered by these two physicians. Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind when I felt a swollen lymph node above my left collarbone a year later.

I had had a swollen gland in my neck before, maybe associated with a cold or something several years ago. Once again, I did the right thing and went straight to my family physician who sent me right away to an Oncologist. Remember, this was a full year AFTER I was told not to worry about cancer. I was perfectly fine.

The Oncologist sent me in for a biopsy. The result that I was given shocked me to the core. Renal Cell Carcinoma, Stage IV! Inoperable! How could this be? I was told a year ago that it was ridiculous to think that this cyst could have turned cancerous! Now my husband and I were faced with the most horrific news anyone could bear to hear. My sweet husband, who I met when I was 14. We had been married 20 years and had 3 teenage daughters. How could this be happening? We were proactive and went to every scan and appointment that these two physicians had ordered. We had read every report and asked all of the questions, so we thought.

I was so upset that my health was so mismanaged by these two trusted professionals. I had so many questions, but my thoughts became consumed with how was I going to break this news to my children. It was hard enough watching my husband deal with the diagnosis, but telling the girl’s was one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to do. The problem was that I had been in their places. When I was 16, I witnessed my own beloved Father die from cancer. He had Melanoma. I had to watch him die for 6 months. I knew how my daughters would feel. How could I bear to tell them?

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Many people suffer from kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is when there are malignant cells in one or both of your kidneys. Your kidneys are in the middle of your back. They help to flush out the wastes that are in your blood into your urine. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of kidney cancer because if it is caught and treated early there is a better chance of survival.

Urine Output

Some kidney cancer symptoms have to do with your urine output. If you suspect that you might have kidney cancer, check your urine output closely. Usually you will find that you have blood in your urine when you have kidney cancer. Unfortunately, you may only notice the blood in your urine in later development of the kidney cancer. Your urine may look dark in color. For example, it may look like a rusty brown color.

Back Pain

Another one of the symptoms of kidney cancer that you may notice is back pain. You may feel it where your kidneys are. Try doing back stretches to help with the pain. You may also want to ask your doctor if you can take some medication to help with the pain. Heating pads may also help with back pain.

Weight Loss

Many people are excited when they lose weight, but losing weight is a sign of kidney cancer. When you are trying to lose weight that is one thing. However, if you are not trying to lose weight and you suddenly are for no reason that could be a health issue. Losing more than 5% of your body weight may be a sign of kidney cancer. Always see your doctor if you are losing lots of weight unintentionally.

Abdominal and Flank Pain

You may notice that you have abdominal and flank pain when you have kidney cancer. Your abdomen may also look bigger. This is because of swelling and enlargement of your abdomen. This can also cause pain. If these symptoms of kidney cancer happen to you, make sure you see your doctor.

Other Symptoms

There are some other signs and symptoms of kidney cancer that you may experience too. You may have a fever and have a loss of appetite. Your appearance may be paler and you may almost look malnourished. Other kidney cancer symptoms include vision issues, constipation, and problems with feeling cold. Men may have issues with veins around their testicles being enlarged, and women may suddenly have unwarranted hair growth on their body. If you experience signs and symptoms of kidney cancer, see your doctor right away for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Source:

http://health.yahoo.net/channel/kidney-cancer_symptoms

Risk Factors for Developing Kidney (Renal) Cancer

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Your kidneys are small bean-shaped organs located on either side of your abdomen. They have a wide variety of functions in the body, the most important of which is the regulation of blood pressure. They are also involved in maintaining the proper balance of electrolytes and other chemicals in the blood. Like any other organ in the body, the kidneys can become cancerous. Renal cancer is a potentially lethal cancer involving one or both of the kidneys. As with most cancers, renal cancer has the ability to spread throughout the body. Once it has done this, the chances of survival are quite slim.

Over 50,000 people will be diagnosed with renal cancer each year in the United States. There are several types of cancer which can effect the kidneys. Primary renal cancer is any cancer which originates in the kidney. Secondary renal cancer is a condition where the cancer began somewhere else in the body, and spread to the kidneys. Primary renal cancer has several distinct types. The most common type is called renal cell carcinoma. These cancers account for up to 85% of all primary cancers in the kidneys. The other major type of primary renal cancer is known as a transitional cell cancer. This type of cancer is more similar to a bladder cancer, although it effects parts of the kidneys.

As is the case with many diseases, it is better to try and prevent renal cancer than it is to be forced to deal with it once it has begun. In order to prevent renal cancer, it is important to known what some of the common risk factors are for the development of this disease. By controlling some of these risk factors, you may be able to limit you chances of every being diagnosed with renal cancer.

The first and most important risk factor for renal cancer is cigarette smoking. The reason for this is not well understood, but numerous studies have show that smokers have almost twice the risk of getting renal cancer compared to those who do not smoke. This is yet another reason why you should not smoke (as if the other few thousand reasons weren’t enough).

Although there is very little you can to do control your gender or age, these can be risk factors for renal cancer. Most cases of kidney cancer are seen in people over the age of 55. As you get older, your chances of getting kidney cancer increase. In addition, men are more likely to get renal cancer.

Obesity has been linked with the chances of developing renal cancer. The exact reason for this has no been worked out by doctors, although the association is quite well established.

There are risk factors related to the environment as well. Exposure to asbestos, cadmium, and other petroleum products has been shown to increase the risk of developing renal cancer. If you work in environments where these chemicals are present, you should take the necessary precautions to limit your exposure as much as possible.

There is some evidence that long term use of analgesics, especially aspirin, may put a person at increased risk for kidney cancer. This association is somewhat controversial however, and a definite link has not been established.

Lastly, there are a few rare genetic conditions which can increase a persons risk for renal cancer. Tuberous sclerosis and von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome are two genetic diseases that effect the kidneys and can increase your chances of getting a renal cancer. There is some evidence that having a close relative with renal cancer can place you at higher risk as well, especially if that person had a form that was not associated with environmental exposures.

Renal cancer is a serious disease that must be treated aggressively in oder to save the effected person. If you have questions about renal cancer and how you may be at risk, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Information about Cancer: What you Need to Know

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Recently reporter Ted Koppel hosted a TV special highlighting several people who are living with cancer. They were well known people, Lance Armstrong being the most famous among them. Armstrong is best known as the greatest bicyclist in history and for overcoming testicular cancer while in his twenties.

However, there is another deadly disease that is making the rounds and yet has gotten almost no media coverage at all. This killer will infect 51,190 people this year alone. Of those currently being treated for the disease 12,890 will die.

The killer is known by doctors and patients as Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) or kidney cancer. It is a deadly disease that once it begins to grow in one, or sometimes both, kidneys will take its time growing. Most RCC sufferers have no idea they have the disease until they begin to exhibit symptoms that are common to the disease. However, the symptoms do not necessarily mean the disease is present which is what makes it so deadly.

Just who is prone to get RCC? According to the National Cancer Institute men are more likely to get the disease than are women. Each year 20,000 men will get RCC as opposed to 12,000 women.

People over 40 are more likely to develop kidney cancer, but no one knows exactly what causes this deadly disease. Doctors are hard pressed to explain why one person will develop kidney cancer while another does not. They do know for sure though that kidney cancer is not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Researchers have learned that certain risk factors are likely to cause kidney cancer in some people than in others.

The NCI has listed the following risk factors to watch for:

Smoking: Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor. Cigarette smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop kidney cancer. Cigar smoking also may increase the risk of this disease.
Obesity: People who are obese have an increased risk of kidney cancer.
High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the risk of kidney cancer.
Long-term dialysis: Dialysis is a treatment for people whose kidneys do not work well. It removes wastes from the blood. Being on dialysis for many years is a risk factor for kidney cancer.
Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome: VHL is a rare disease that runs in some families. It is caused by changes in the VHL gene. An abnormal VHL gene increases the risk of kidney cancer. It also can cause cysts or tumors in the eyes, brain, and other parts of the body. Family members of those with this syndrome can have a test to check for the abnormal VHL gene. For people with the abnormal VHL gene, doctors may suggest ways to improve the detection of kidney cancer and other diseases before symptoms develop.
Occupation: Some people have a higher risk of getting kidney cancer because they come in contact with certain chemicals or substances in their workplace. Coke oven workers in the iron and steel industry are at risk. Workers exposed to asbestos or cadmium also may be at risk.
Gender: Males are more likely than females to be diagnosed with kidney cancer. Each year in the United States, about 20,000 men and 12,000 women learn they have kidney cancer.

Most people who have these risk factors do not get kidney cancer. On the other hand, most people who do get the disease have no known risk factors. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this concern with their doctor. The doctor may be able to suggest ways to reduce the risk and can plan an appropriate schedule for checkups.

The most common symptoms of the disease are:

  • Blood in the urine (making the urine slightly rusty to deep red)
  • Pain in the side that does not go away
  • A lump or mass in the side or the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Feeling very tired or having a general feeling of poor health

Please keep in mind that most often, these symptoms do not mean you have cancer. The symptoms may also be an indication of an infection, a cyst, or another problem. You should see a doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

At this time there several treatment options available for this disease but there is still no known cure so early detection is very important.

I am not a doctor or a medical professional so I am not offering medical advice and none of this should be construed as such. I am a kidney cancer patient.

I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in November of 2006 and had my right kidney removed in December. I have been under the care of an oncologist since February and will be going into the hospital soon for more treatments. The way I see it now is that early detection may have saved my life.

Hypospadias: The Common Birth Defect in Newborn Boys

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Like many parents of boys, before our son was born, my husband and I had to decide if we were going to have our newborn son circumcised. With the many health and hygiene benefits and commonality of circumcision, this was not a tough decision for us. It was a no-brainer, in fact. We decided that of course our son would be circumcised.

However, our son’s body had different plans in mind. Within twenty-four hours of his beautiful, miraculous birth, we were told by my doctor that a circumcision was temporarily out of the question because he was born with a condition called Hypospadias.

Confusion and fear mixed with our excitement and anxiety. We had never heard of this condition before, and although he was born with a very mild case of Hypospadias, we were frightened to learn that because of the condition our newborn baby boy would not only have to stay uncircumcised for at least eight months but would also have to undergo minor reconstructive surgery of his penis sometime between eight and ten months old.

What is Hypospadias?

Hypospadias is a common birth defect that affects one out of every 200 to 250 boys approximately. It is a congenital condition that occurs before week 20 in gestational age in which the opening of the urethra developed on the underside of the penis, consequently resulting in hooded foreskin-foreskin that does not cover the entire circumference of the penis-and sometimes downward curvature of the penis. The cosmetic impact of the hooded foreskin means that there is not enough skin to correctly perform a circumcision, but the functionality affected by Hypospadias is what is most concerning to doctors.

Because the urethral opening is not placed where it should be, which is in the center of the tip of the head of the penis, this can cause problems in urination and, later in life, excreting semen. Mild cases of Hypospadias in which the urethral opening is developed along the shaft is somewhat near the head are known as distal positioning hypospadias; those where the opening is located farther down the shaft and closer to the scrotum, and sometimes behind the scrotum, are known as proximal Hypospadias. Over 80% of boys born with the condition have distal positioning, and of that 80% approximately 15% are affected by mild curvature of the penis due to the Hypospadias. In boys born with proximal positioning of the urethral opening, 50% are affected by downward curvature. Not only is functionality a problem in this case, but cosmetically it can be embarrassing and even be psychologically damaging to a boy’s self-body image. For more information on distal and proximal hypospadias positioning, visit: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=130.

How is Hypospadias Treated?

Hypospadias, regardless of the type or severity, is corrected through surgery with the end result of a normal straight penis and a urinary channel that ends centered in the tip of the head of the penis. The surgery process involves four steps: straightening the shaft, creating the urinary channel, correctly positioning the urethral opening, and finally either circumcision or reconstruction of the foreskin. During the surgery, tissue grafts are taken from the child’s foreskin to reconstruct the penis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002265/).

Depending on the type of Hypospadias, the same-day surgery takes anywhere from one hour (for distal) to three hours (for proximal) to complete.

Hypospadias repair can be performed on a child between three and eighteen months of age, but because he has to be put under anesthesia for surgery, most urology surgeons require waiting until the child is at least eight months old to have the condition corrected.

“If hypospadias is untreated, a boy may have difficulty with toilet training and problems with sexual intercourse in adulthood. Urethral strictures and fistulas may form throughout the boy’s life, requiring surgery” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002265/).

What Happens After the Surgery?

After the surgery, children are placed on antibiotics and given pain medication to be used as necessary for a few days following the operation. Parents may or may not be instructed to use bandages depending on the extensiveness of the surgery, and most urologists will advise applying a triple antibiotic ointment several times a day and keeping the diaper area as dry as possible, relatively speaking. In more severe cases, a catheter may also be used for five days up to two weeks.

We were lucky that our son only had a very mild form of this condition, which was easily correctable and required little after-care. In our case, no bandages were needed, only triple antibiotic ointment, and we were told not to submerge our son in water until the stitches had dissolved nor allow direct pressure to the area for ten days, which meant no straddling anything or bouncing up and down in his jumperoo! Although he had some swelling and black and blue bruising, which is common after surgery, it was pretty mild. The worst for our little guy seemed to be the noticeable pain he was in the first few times he urinated when the pain medication had worn off, but the worst for Mommy and Daddy was waiting through the longest hour of our life to hear the good news that he had come out of the surgery and the anesthesia in good health.

References:

http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=130

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002265/