Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is cancer that originates in your kidneys, the two bean-shaped organs located behind your abdominal organs on either side of your spine. The two most common types of kidney cancer are renal cell carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis. These names indicate the type of cell from which the cancer developed.

General information
The incidence of kidney cancer seems to be increasing. One reason for this may be that imaging techniques, such as computerized tomography (CT scans), are being used more often. These tests may lead to the accidental discovery of more kidney cancers. Around 208,500 new cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed in the world each year, accounting for about 2 percent of all cancers. It develops most often in people over the age of 40.

Our kidneys are important but we actually need less than one complete kidney to function. Many people in the United States are living normal, healthy lives with just one kidney. Some people do not have any working kidneys at all, and survive with the help of dialysis, a medical procedure used to clean the blood with a machine outside the body. A kidney transplant may be done when the disease is in the kidney only and a donated kidney can be found.

The most common symptoms of kidney cancer are a mass in the abdomen and/or blood in the urine. Other symptoms may include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, a high temperature and heavy sweating, and persistent pain in the abdomen. However, many of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all, particularly in the early stages of the disease.

Factors that increase the risk of kidney cancer include smoking, which can double the risk of the disease; regular use of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen; genetics; a family history of kidney cancer; having a kidney disease that require dialysis; being infected with hepatitis C; and previous treatment for testicular cancer or cervical cancer. Other possible risk factors, such as kidney stones and high blood pressure, are being investigated.

Standard treatment for kidney carcinoma includes surgery to remove part or all of the kidney, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biologic therapy, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapies use drugs or other substances that can find and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Antiangiogenic agents are a type of targeted therapy that may be used to treat advanced kidney carcinoma. They keep blood vessels from forming in a tumor, causing the tumor to starve and stop growing or shrink.

If the cancer has not spread, it usually will be removed by surgery. Sometimes this involves removing the whole kidney (nephrectomy). However, most tumors respond to partial nephrectomy, which involves the removal of the kidney tumor only and preserving the remaining normal kidney.

If the cancer can’t be cured with surgery, sometimes doctors use other techniques such as cryotherapy (freezing the tumor away) or radiofrequency ablation (burning the tumor away).

Social Security Administration POMS: DI 23022.205 — Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer meets Social Security Administration (SSA) Medical Listing 13.21 with biopsy proof of the cancer and clinical notes stating the tumor is inoperable, unresectable, recurrent, or has metastasized to, or beyond, the regional lymph nodes.

Kidney cancer is listed under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance Program, which was launched in 2008 to expedite certain disability claims. Applying for disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Program requires the same procedure every applicant must follow when applying for SSA disability benefits; however, you will be notified if your condition is being considered as a compassionate allowance.

Your representative can help you determine whether your kidney cancer is at the level of severity necessary for a successful disability claim. He or she may be able to help expedite your claim if you have a diagnosis of kidney cancer