Kidney (Renal) cancer

Kidney (renal) cancer is the 7th most common cancer in the UK. Most kidney cancers are detected incidentally  - a scan done for another reason showed an unexpected finding. However, some patients do have pain, or notice a lump or blood in their urine as a presenting complaint.

Kidney cancer is evaluated using a dedicated CT or MRI scan of the kidneys and referred to a specialist kidney surgeon and oncologist for further management. 

Removal of the kidney, or part of the kidney can treat many cancers successfully. Some small cancers can be safely monitored without intervention. Cryoablation (freezing tissue) is a treatment for small kidney cancers in patients who may not be fit enough to undergo a more major operation.

Kidney (Renal) cysts are fluid filled structures that originate from the surface of the kidney. They are very common; a UK study in 2003 found renal cysts in 45% patients who underwent a CT scan for another reason. The vast majority of kidney cysts are benign (non-cancerous) and can be left alone. Some cysts have specific features such as thickened walls or calcifications that warrant follow up.

Angiomyolipomas (AMLs) are kidney lumps that are non-cancerous; they are made up of fat, smooth muscle and blood vessels. They are more common in women and can be associated with rare genetic conditions. The majority of AMLs require no intervention at all. Treatment may be considered if the AML is causing symptoms. Larger AMLs, or AMLs In women of childbearing age may be monitored and treated if required.

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