Key Points about Renal Sarcoma
- Renal sarcoma is an extremely rare type of renal (kidney) cancer.
- Doctors use imaging tests, biopsy, urinalysis and physical exam to diagnose renal sarcoma.
- Treatment for renal sarcoma may involve surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Renal (kidney) cancer is when abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both of your kidneys. Renal sarcoma is a rare kidney cancer that begins in the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidneys. This type of cancer accounts for less than 1% of all kidney cancer cases.
Renal sarcoma causes
Renal sarcoma is caused by cancerous (abnormal) cells growing out of control in the connective tissue or blood vessels of the kidneys.
Renal sarcoma risk factors
Understanding what raises your risk for certain cancers can help you make an informed decision about the risk factors you can change. There are other risk factors, such as a person’s age or family history, that cannot be changed.
The following factors may increase your risk for developing renal sarcoma:
- Being a smoker
- Being between the ages of 50 and 70
- Being obese
- Having acquired kidney disease and/or being on dialysis
- Having been exposed to certain dyes, asbestos, metals or herbicides
- Having hepatitis C
- Having von Hippel-Lindau disease (an inherited condition)
- Taking high amounts of pain medications – such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) – over long periods of time
Renal sarcoma symptoms
Signs and symptoms of renal sarcoma can include:
- A lump you can feel on your side, belly or lower back
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Hematuria (blood in your urine)
- Feeling tired
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Loss of appetite
- Lower back pain on one side
- Sweating while sleeping
- Unintentional weight loss
Renal sarcoma diagnosis
Your oncologist may use one or more of the following tests to diagnose this condition:
- Physical exam - your doctor will perform a complete physical exam, including asking questions about your health history, symptoms and related risk factors.
- Biopsy - in this test, your doctor removes a biopsy (small tissue sample) from your kidney. This sample is sent to the laboratory, where a specialist closely checks the biopsy for abnormalities.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan - your doctor may order a CT scan of your kidneys. This specialized imaging test uses a series of X-ray images to create detailed images of the inside of your body.
- Ultrasound - your doctor may order an ultrasound, an imaging test that uses sound waves to create detailed images of your abdomen.
- Urinalysis - your doctor may order this test, which checks a sample of your urine for abnormal levels of blood, protein or bacteria in your urine. These can be signs of problems with your kidneys.
Renal sarcoma treatments
Depending on your personal health history, the extent of your renal sarcoma and other factors, your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Ablation - during this treatment, your doctor uses extreme cold or radio waves to destroy cancerous cells.
- Biological therapies - these types of therapies involve using the body’s immune system to fight cancer.
- Chemotherapy - this treatment involves the use of medications to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be delivered via a pill taken orally (by mouth) or an intravenous liquid (injected into a vein).
- Nephrectomy - during this surgical procedure, your surgeon removes part of or all of one of your kidneys. Most people can live a healthy life with only one remaining kidney.
When should I seek care?
If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing an oncologist for more specialized treatment.