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Kidney cancer: early diagnosis determines treatment success

The disease affects more than 300,000 people a year worldwide

According to the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology (SBOC), six thousand new cases of kidney in Brazil every year. Despite not being one of the most common types of cancer40% of the population are diagnosed with the disease late, and are already showing signs of metastasis - in other words, when the disease has already spread to other parts of the body. This is because, in the early stages, it doesn't usually cause symptoms. Often, the diagnosis is made when the lesion reaches 10 cm in diameter or more. Other times, they are discovered accidentally during check-ups (such as an ultrasound scan of the abdomen).

When the cancer is at an advanced stage with involvement of other organs, the most common symptoms are:
Worldwide, approximately 337,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2017. The distribution between the sexes is 2 men for every woman. Latin America ranks fifth in terms of kidney disease incidence. cancer behind North America, Europe, Oceania and Asia.


For some reason, cells in the kidney lose their original function and begin to multiply rapidly. Gradually, they take over the organ and can even spread to other organs. In general, it's not clear what causes it. Some in the scientific community associate kidney syndrome, in which the body as a whole suffers the chronic effects of a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, emotional stress, poor quality sleep, a diet low in antioxidants and rich in animal meat. This maintains chronically high levels of cortisol, which is a powerful inhibitor of the body's immune system, which favors the uncontrolled multiplication of cancer cells. cells.


Most cases of kidney can be cured with early diagnosis. But how do you detect it early if it doesn't always show signs? Ideally, we should include checkups an abdominal ultrasound in people who have risk factors such as a family history, hypertension, smoking, obesity or chronic kidney disease.


The general recommendation is basically to follow a lifestyle that keeps high blood pressure and weight gain at bay. Eating well and exercising are great for this, not to mention smoking, which should be avoided. Medical care is another way of at least diagnosing the disease early.


Surgery is the only definitive treatment for kidney cancer. Radical nephrectomy, which is the removal of the kidney, adrenal gland and regional lymph nodes, is the traditional and most indicated treatment for cases of tumors that originate in the kidneys.

In recent years, much progress has been made in diagnostic procedures and surgical techniques, which can be minimally invasive, such as laparoscopy, robotic surgery, cryotherapy and radiofrequency. With this, it is possible to remove only the tumor with a margin of safety, rather than complete removal of the compromised kidney, preserving as much healthy, functioning tissue as possible.

Laparoscopic partial nephrectomy is performed through small incisions and with the aid of cameras, and offers the same cure rates as conventional surgery. Since 2000, there has also been an increase in the use and incorporation of robotic surgery for the treatment of kidney cancer. The platform allows the surgeon greater control of the precision instruments during the operation, as well as favoring a three-dimensional view of the surgical field and tissue reconstruction with less trauma. In Brazil, some specialized centers already offer this technology.

Treatment for advanced cases

As recently as January 2019, patients with advanced tumors in Brazil. The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) approved the combined use of the drugs ipilimumab and nivolumab, and the medication cabozantinib, for the treatment of tmetastatic metastatic kidney tumors - when they have already spread to other organs.

The first two stimulate our own defense cells to attack the cancer. This type of strategy is known as immunotherapy and is part of a real recent revolution in oncology. In the study that justified its release, the combination of these drugs reduced the likelihood of death by 37% among patients with advanced tumor who had not been treated previously.

Cabozantinib, on the other hand, is part of a line of treatment called target therapy, which attacks specific points of the cancer responsible for its development. In the research that secured its approval, it guaranteed a 52% drop in the risk of the disease progressing in advanced patients who had not been treated before.

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