Kidney cancer is a life-threatening condition that can interfere with the kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the bloodstream. Fortunately, if you are aware of the risk factors that contribute to kidney cancer, you can reduce your likelihood of developing this condition.
Understanding Kidney Function
You have two bean-shaped kidneys in your body, each about the size of your fist. The kidneys are located on either side of your spine in the lower-middle section of your back. Your kidneys may be small, but they have a very important function that is essential to life. They filter and clean all of your blood to remove excess water, salt, and waste from your body’s 1.2 to 1.5 gallons of blood. After your kidneys remove the waste from your blood, the waste becomes urine.
Although there are many varieties of kidney cancer, the most common type is called renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC results in one or more tumors being formed in or on the kidney, impeding their proper functioning. RCC can cause severe kidney damage, possibly resulting in kidney failure.
There are certain factors that may place you at an increased risk of developing kidney cancer. Some of these factors include:
- Old age
- Suffering from obesity
- Suffering from high blood pressure
- Certain genetic factors
- Previous kidney failure
Elderly patients and those experiencing any of the above-listed risk factors should be diligent about maintaining optimal physical health as well as attending regular doctor visits. This may help to reduce cancer risk that is associated with these factors, as well as aid in early detection should cancer develop.
Some risk factors associated with the development of kidney diseases, such as old age or genetic disorders, cannot be avoided or helped. However, lifestyle changes can drastically reduce your risk of developing kidney cancer. If you are a smoker, consult with your physician about developing a plan to quit. Maintaining a healthy weight through moderate exercise and a healthy diet is another important part of cancer risk reduction. Smoking cessation and the development of a healthy diet and exercise program can also help to lower high blood pressure.
If you feel you may be at a higher risk of developing cancer, don’t delay in scheduling an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you address any underlying health problems, the better chance you have of reducing your risk of kidney cancer.
Photo: Thinkstock/© yezry