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Do I have cancer?

Posts: 18
Joined: May 2010

Hi All,
I just joined and I feel like maybe I shouldn't have. 4 weeks ago I went in to the ER with stomach pain and had to have my appendix removed. While I was there the PA told me that they found a spot on my kidney. When I asked her what she meant by spot she said...it could be nothing, it could be cancer, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Really? She wouldn't lose sleep over cancer? So...when I got out of the hospital I found a urologist and went to see him, hoping they just made a mistake at the hospital. The urologist told me that I have a 7 cm mass on my kidney. He sent me in for an ultrasound that same day. I was still hoping it was nothing when he called me back to say it was not cystic, it was solid, I was hoping this was good news and then he told me I had to have the tumor and my right kidney removed. I asked several times if it is cancer and he said I don't really fit any of the risk factors for kidney cancer since I am female, 38 and a non smoker. I asked him if he thought it looked like cancer and he said if I was 60-80 years old he would estimate an 80% chance that it is cancer and he really couldn't say until he took it out. Later I called back and talked to the nurse about some of my questions and she was reading the doctors notes to me and said that he met with 4 other partners in the practice and they all agreed that we couldn't save my kidney and that it was suspicious for renal cell carcinoma. Do I have cancer??? The docs wanted me to have surgery right away to remove tumor and kidney, my wedding is May 22 so they are going to let me wait until after the wedding. Surgery is scheduled for June 2. At first I was happy that I was going to get to wait but as my wedding approaches I am just getting more nervous. I wish I would have had the surgery right away. I just want to know if this is cancer. Does this sound familiar to any of you?

icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3354
Joined: Jan 2010

Eight years ago this month I had a 2.7cm tumor the doctor said was 85 to 90% cancer and I had to have the kidney taken out. It was Cancer. I am fine now. I am going to be 67 years old in a few months and still enjoy life. Surgery cures Kidney Cancer if the Kidney is removed before it spreads. The Surgery was not fun but it beats the alternative. I never smoked either. As a newlywed you should be able to get some sympathy for a few weeks and at 38 you should be back to normal in a month or two.

Posts: 55
Joined: Apr 2010

My mom was diagnosed with RCC at the age of 41 ~ NEVER listen to "you dont fit the profile for (insert type) Cancer" based on age, family history etc. You never know and it is better to be safe than sorry. I do not remember what the recovery time was for my mom's kidney removal. I would try not to worry about it but be your own advocate and do not let the doctors rule. You make them do what makes you comfortable!

HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Dec 2009

From what you have described, it points strongly to renal cell kidney cancer. To be 100% certain, a biopsy of the tumor on your kideny and a pathology report would settle any doubts. Have catscan done to determine if the cancer metastasized to other location(s) or lymph nodes. Why get catscan after ultrasound? a CAT scan machine forms a full three-dimensional computer model of a patient's insides. Doctors can even examine the body one narrow slice at a time to pinpoint specific areas. People often have CT scans to further look at an abnormality seen on another test such as an x-ray or an ultrasound.

The "stage" of the cancer should have been given to you (early stage , late...). a 7 cm solid mass is about 3.5 inches. If the Renal cell cancer cells have not spread, then surgery to remove is often the only treatment required. RCC kidney cancer is typically a "slow" growing type. In my opinion, June 2nd surgery is within normal guidelines (3 weeks away)as Dr feels the difference in tumor size or location will not change from today.

There are three basic types of kidney removal, including:

• simple nephrectomy, which involves removal of kidney only
• radical nephrectomy, which involves removal of the kidney, the adrenal gland above the kidney, the surrounding fatty tissue, and the lymph nodes next to the kidney. Lymph nodes, sometimes called glands, are part of the immune system. This procedure is usually done when cancer of the kidney is present.
• partial nephrectomy, which involves removing only part of one kidney. This is not usually attempted unless a person has only one kidney.

Now the best news: early stage Renal cell kidney cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers with as high as 90% 5 yr survival rate

•Stage 1: the cancer is only within the kidney, and has not spread. This stage has the best long-term survival and is most likely to be cured with surgery. The five year survival rate is almost 90%.

•Stage 2: the cancer has spread outside of the kidney to the surrounding fat, or to the adrenal gland, which sits on top of the kidney. This stage also has a high rate of survival and surgery is a good treatment option. The five year survival rate is more than 75%.

•Stage 3: the cancer may be of any size, but it extends outside the capsule of the kidney and into blood vessels. In this stage, the specialist will give advice about appropriate treatment. There is a 5 year survival rate of close to 65%.

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

I had a similar experience from understanding what was happening.

I went in - had my appendix taken out and they found some "unusual" cells. We really couldn't get any definitive answers from our local surgeons and just kept asking questions. We ended up going to Sloan Kettering in NYC. It ends up I had cancer that spread from my appendix to other areas around my appendix. I had surgery a few weeks after but only after my family and I had our vacation.

There is one thing I learned from my experience - keep asking questions. You have that right and understanding the answers to your questions are the best thing you can do. I can also tell you I was concerned about not having surgery before we left for vacation but my doctors were okay with me going on vacation and I trusted them. Ends up the vacation was a nice break from all the other craziness going on.

Hope that helps a little and try your best to enjoy your wedding.

frank kirkey
Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi,I had a large mass on my lower right kidney.Had every test done that you could imagine even the biopsy.Kept coming up compatible to cancer.I live in Mich. My urologist told me up here they yank the hole kidney out.He sent me to Cleavland Clinc.Had my surgery Fri.13 2009 lost my large mass in quarter of my kidney.At Cleavland the Doc. gave me 90% chance it was not cancer.It was stage 2 cancer was off work 2 months.Cleavland is the way to go they do not take out hole kidney if cancer is not in blood stream.My Doc. had over 3,000 repairs on kidneys.Hope you luck keep a positive attitude.I will keep you in my prayers.Frank

Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2010

Frank..I also live in Michigan and my experience is not that they yank the whole kidney out...my urologist is U of M affiliated and I had a minimally invasive procedure called Radiofrequency Ablation done on an outpatient basis. Done at 8 a.m. and I was home by 5 p.m. I am five days post procedure and have no pain. I'm told I should be able to return to normal activity after one week.

I'm aware not everyone is a candidate for this surgery. Typically, most success is found with tumors that are 4 cm or smaller and which are still confined to the kidney. Cleveland Clinic is an excellent place..I'm not knocking it. But I must say that my feelings are that the University of Michigan Medical Center saved my life and left me with my kidney intact.

Posts: 18
Joined: May 2010

So I am back. Maybe not better than ever but I am back and I am so grateful! I got married on May 22, 2010. It was perfect!

June 2, 2010 I went in for my lap nephrectomy. It started off as a lap surgery so I have a 5" incision going around my belly button and 2 little ones, I guess I started bleeding so they decided to do the big cut so I also have the big 10" going across my belly. The pain was so incredible when I first woke up. I told the nurses I was at a level 10 in pain and had my doctor paged 4 times the first night. I didn't sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time. Day 2 my regular doc came and upped my pain meds and by day 5 I was doing a little better and was sent home. I was off work for a full 4 weeks and started half days the 5th week. This is week 6 and I have worked 4 full days. It is Friday at 4:15 and I am pooped. I have just started getting these really weird pains near my incision that sort of feel like I am being shocked. I am wearing regular pants now but it is uncomfortable.

My official diagnosis is RCC, chromophobe, Stage 2, Grade 3. My doc said I will go in for scans every 6 months. The tumor was 7 cm and all contained within the kidney.

I never thought I would say this but Thank God for my appendicitis (sp). I am so grateful the worst of this is behind me ( I hope ) and I am getting better every day. I have so much to be happy for...My two kids (11 and 7) have a mom and a new step dad. I guess if I was to get cancer, I got pretty lucky. I am 6 weeks from surgery and taking care of my family and out and about! I am only 38 years old so I have a lot of living left to do!

Thanks everyone for the comments and I will keep you all in my prayers!!!

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