The Importance of Early Detection: Kidney Cancer

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Last spring, 42-year-old Christine Fetting was enjoying a healthy, active life. She spent her free time golfing, cycling, and fishing with her closest friends and family. But one day that all changed.

“All of the sudden throughout the course of a day, I had a lot of blood in my urine and extreme abdominal pain landed me in the emergency room in the middle of the night,” Christine says. She was admitted to the hospital where she underwent many tests. But, doctors couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong and she ended up going home.

Even though Christine was feeling better, she wanted answers. That’s when she found Dr. Daniel Dalton, a professor of clinical urology at Northwestern University Medical School. Dr. Dalton spotted a small mass on her lower kidney and urged Christine to have it removed. “I thought that we would be able to take the lower third or 40% of her kidney off and I was comfortable that doing that within the midst of what we were taking off, the growth would be there,” Dalton says.

Dr. Dalton removed the entire mass and it tested positive for cancer.  At 42, Christine was a bit young to have a cancer that typically affects people in their 60’s, 70’s, or up.  She also didn’t suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, two diseases that negatively affect the kidney. So it was a surprise to Christine that the mass was cancerous.

The doctor believes Christine’s persistence for answers may have saved her life, because without further investigation the mass would have just continued to grow and spread.  There are typically few symptoms when it comes to kidney disease, so early diagnosis is often difficult. Dr. Dalton urges others to take an active interest in their health and to seek medical attention if they know something isn’t quite right. Dr. Dalton also says one should never ignore blood in the urine, because it could represent a malignancy.

Christine feels lucky that the cancerous mass is now gone, and she is eager to return to her normal, healthy lifestyle.  In fact, golfing, cycling, and fishing are slowly making their way back into her routine, and she’s excited about her cancer-free future.

For maximum kidney health, Dr. Dalton suggests keeping hydrated, staying active, and eating a healthy diet.  He also suggests routine exams with your physician for hypertension, blood pressure, diabetes, and weight management.

 

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