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kidney cancer and complex cysts

Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2005

hi all, my dad is 78, but a very active 78yr old and he has recently been told he has kidney cancer( this was found after looking at a enlarged prostate) anyway he is having his kidney removed in 3 weeks, but a ct scan showed the other kidney as having a complex cyst, im concerned that that complex cyst is infact cancer to, but the speciast doesnt seem concered he is just concentrating on the kidney that will be removed. THIS SPECIALIST SAYS THE TUMOR IS QUITE SMALL, ABOUT 3 TO 4CM , BUT IM WORRIED HAS IT SPREAD. CAN ANYONE SHED SOME LIGHT ON THIS COMPLEX CYST? ANY INFO WOULD BE APPRECIATED. THANKS... MANDY

Chicago's picture
Posts: 73
Joined: Apr 2004

Hey Mandy,

Was it the tumor, or the complex cyst, that is only 3-4 cm? A tumor that small is a good sign. RCC tumors usually have to get significantly bigger before they spread. And usually they show signs of spreading outside the first kidney before showing up in the other.

Complex cysts though, seem to be a whole different animal. My RCC was actually from a complex cyst (also about 4 cm). They could not even tell from the CT scans that it was cancer. They gave me only about 20% chance. That became 100% after it was removed.

That doesn't mean though, that all complex cysts are cancerous. Most are not. Mine was difficult because some scans indicated that it might be, but others that it probably was not. We chose not to risk it.

I happen to have some other complex cysts in the same kidney. Normally they would have taken those out too, but there was no way to get them without taking the whole kidney. They still tell me, however, that they can say for sure that they are definitely NOT cancer right now. We scan them regularly though, just to make sure there are no changes.

Your dad's docs probably see something similar. My guess from the lack of concern of the specialist is that your dad's cyst is lighting up as a clear class 2 on the scale (class 1 being simple fluid cysts). For comparison, my cancerous cyst lit up as both a 2 and a 3.

Another woman on this list though, just had a mass removed that was much bigger than mine, and lighting up the same way. No cancer though.

Given your dad's age and activity level, they're probably thinking the risk from the cyst is low, and lower than removing both kidneys and putting him on dialysis. He'll probably have to get scanned regularly anyway, so they will see right away if there are any changes to the cyst. There should be more than enough time to deal with that then.

Stay positive. You may have just caught a nasty one in time.

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2005

I am new to all this...I just recently found out I have a cyst near my left kidney. They have done a ct scan, a straight x-ray, a cystoscopy, an ultrasound, and now they are talking about doing a MRI. There seems to be some disagreement over whether it is a simple cyst or a complex one. The scans have not been conclusive. The ct scan was a non contrast scan and the cyst showed up light which the doctor said was a good sign. They then did an ultrasound, which came back dark with spider webby looking splotches on the cyst which the radiologist said it isn't a simple cyst but a complex one and that cancer could not be ruled out. The doctor is still not convinced that it is not just a simple cyst that possibly bled at one time or another creating false echoes on the ultrasound. The first measurement I was given was 3.8 cm with the first scan, with the ultrasound they measured it as being 4.9cm. I also have several kidney stones in my right kidney, but they are small at this time and the doctor doesn't feel they pose a real threat at this particular time. They have been finding blood in my urine sporadically now for quite some time. I have suffered with frequent urinary tract infections which prompted this whole investigation to begin with. I don't have high blood pressure, I lean more to the low side with the blood pressure. But I do have alot of lower back pain which I don't know how much is attributed to the kidneys or to the fact that I also have fibromyalgia. I've read that migraines, floppy heart valves, etc. can be connected with cysts. I have all of those except for the blood pressure one. I haven't gained weight, but quite the opposite, have continued to lose weight, of which, I don't need to lose. I have had alot of medical problems in the past, and it has been kind of a running joke in my family and with doctors, that if it can happen, it will happen to me. I know the urologist probably thinks I'm crazy because I'm pushing him to find out for sure if this cyst is a simple or complex one and then if it does turn out to be complex, if it is cancerous or not, but with all I have been through, I feel I am justified. He wanted to wait for 3 months and then do another scan, but I told him that 3 months for me is too long to wait. I don't want to risk the chance that it could be cancer and then lose 3 months of potential treatment time. Does this sound reasonable or am I going overboard? I can use any advice that anyone is able to give.

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