Fri, Jul 01, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Urologist urges kidney checkups

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Kidney cancer rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, so getting regular health examinations can help catch the disease early and boost survival rates, a urologist said on Monday.

A 63-year-old man surnamed Lo (羅) — who has a health examination every year — was found to have a small kidney stone and a cyst two years ago, which were treated.

This year a 5cm tumor was found in Lo’s right kidney, which was later diagnosed as stage 1 cancer.

Tungs’ Taichung Metroharbor Hospital urologist Huang Zhon-min (黃鐘銘) said that as Lo’s tumor was not suitable for removal via local resection, surgeons decided to use the da Vinci Surgical System — a robotic surgical platform — to remove the growth.

Lo was discharged from the hospital four days after the surgery.

Huang said the operation was successful because the tumor was detected early.

“The kidneys are surrounded by a fatty layer of tissue that helps protect them, so early stage kidney cancer is difficult to detect,” he said. “When there is blood in the urine, the patient complains of backache or noticeable swelling, usually the tumor is already large and the cancer cells have metastasized.”

Huang said studies show that the five-year survival rate of stage 1 renal cell carcinoma is about 80 to 90 percent, about 70 to 80 percent for stage 2, about 50 to 60 percent for stage 3 and less than 10 percent for stage 4.

He urged people at high risk for kidney cancer — people with a family history of the disease, who have had kidney stones or who smoke — to have regular abdominal ultrasounds.

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