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Renal Cancer Questions

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Old 04-30-2007, 05:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: minneapolis, mn
Posts: 3
ulysses77 HB User
Renal Cancer Questions

Hello everyone...

I have been experiencing some issues (kidney stones, cloudy/dark urine, pain in lower back, etc.) with my left kidney for a few months now. Went to my GP, who referred me to an urologist. The urologist has done a couple of rounds of labwork, six weeks apart, as well as a 24 hour urinalysis. The tests seem to show that my kidneys are not functioning as they should be.

Last week, I met with a nephrologist, who had me get an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a small mass on the left kidney. Based on my conversation with the nephrologist, I think the next step is to have the kidney biopsied. I believe that they are going to do the biospy with a long needle as opposed to a "surgery," but I'm not 100% sure about this. Does anyone know which is typically the case?

Anyway, the prospect of a biopsy automatically brings the "C word" into the spotlight. While I'm cautious about putting the cart ahead of the horse, I do have some questions about renal cancer and the treatments for it.

If renal cancer is an issue, is surgery going to be the only solution considered? Given the size of the mass, my age (38) and the fact that I am in relatively good health, I am hoping to be able to avoid surgery unless it is the only option. I have been doing some research on biologic therapy and would like to push my doctors to go this route, but I'm not finding a lot of "success stories" as they relate to the use of biologic therapy as the sole means of treatment.

I saw somewhere (I think on this board) where someone was opposed to having a biopsy where cancer was a concern. Why is this?

One of the questions I failed to ask my nephrologist is whether or not I can continue to consume alcohol, and—if the mass IS cancerous—if the consumption of alcohol should be discontinued either for the sake of making the kidney function worse or interfering with the treatments. It probably sounds as though I am a big drinker, but I am not, LOL. I do enjoy a glass of wine a couple times a week.

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Old 04-30-2007, 08:10 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 31
snpdrgn HB User
Re: Renal Cancer Questions

Welcome to the board... I get a biopsy next week - I am so excited let me tell you. J/K.. To be honest I am new on the board. I am 25 and 14 weeks pregnant and I am getting a biopsy because most kidney diseases they can tell what you have by a biopsy (and in most cases thats what they HAVE to do to find out what you have unless its by a blood test or blatant obvious symptoms which I personally didnt have) so I dont know if I would jump to cancer right away. There are so many things it could be.

Last edited by snpdrgn; 04-30-2007 at 08:15 PM.

Old 05-01-2007, 01:53 AM   #3
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Nebraska, USA
Posts: 18
Huskerboy HB User
Re: Renal Cancer Questions

Ulysses -

Sounds like you've been doing your fair share of doctoring lately... I'm surprised your urologist hasn't done a C/T contrast scan. I would avoid a biopsy unless they're certain it is necessary. (Just my opinion)

I had gross hematuria (visible blood) in my urine, and large clots that were difficult to pass. I never did have any pain (urinating or in my lower back) until the blood became a constant. They suspected kidney stones... a C/T scan showed a 'blur/shadow' in my left kidney and I was rushed to a urologist.

He did a contrast C/T (you 'get' to drink this nasty-tasting stuff) before the scan and it shows all kinds of things. In my case, that 'blur'... Since I was running a fever, they did all kinds of blood work, and suspected the blur was a mass of coagulated blood caused by a kidney stone. They placed a stint between my kidney and bladder to keep it open so I could pass the blood/clots. Three weeks later, it was still there, and due to the location of the 'blur' (in the renal pelvis) decided the kidney had to be removed. I did not have a biopsy.

After surgery (which left a 10" scar under my left bottom rib) my doctor told me it was cancer... he didn't know what type, it was something 'uncommon' so they sent it to Mayo. The type of cancer I had was Urothelial Cell Carcenoma (which is a transitional cell cancer usually behind bladder cancer) and was graded a Stage III tumor. Even though it was contained in the kidney, it had gotten into the main artery that blood leaves the kidney in. The associated lymph nodes were okay.

As you've no doubt learned, Renal Cell Carcenoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. After my surgery, I went to Tulsa, OK to the Cancer Treatment Center (on of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America) and they were fantastic. I will never go anywhere else for treatment.

I hope I helped answer some questions. I'm only 42, and like you, this was a great concern. Hang in there, and let me know if I can be of any help!


P.S. - The only restriction I have is a limit on my protein in-take. I still have a glass of wine with dinner now and then, and a cold beer still hits the spot. Your nephrologist will be able to tell you about your situation. It sounds like you might be dealing with something a little different than I... keep in touch.

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