The kidneys are the organs in our body that clear toxins out of the bloodstream. They do so by filtering the blood.
They also help:
Because the kidneys do so much for the body, they often find themselves affected by diseases occurring elsewhere, especially cancer.
Kidney cancer or cancer somewhere else in the body can affect your kidneys. Sometimes even cancer treatment can hurt your kidneys.
Anyone having cancer treatment should have their doctor routinely check their kidney function.
If you have kidney disease and receive a cancer diagnosis of any kind, you should make an appointment with your kidney doctor.
If you have cancer and your kidneys aren't working as they should, your doctor will first look for a root cause.
The causes of kidney problems are complex and can include:
At the UPMC Kidney Disease Center, our kidney experts:
The link between cancers, cancer treatment, and the kidney is very complex. Only at a large, historic cancer hospital like UPMC can you receive the focused care you need.
Even in people without cancer, kidney disease is often silent since it has few obvious symptoms.
For those with cancer, it can be even harder to detect kidney disease because of their cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
Most people with kidney disease won't notice any symptoms at all, especially at the early stages.
As the disease gets worse, you may notice some symptoms like:
If you have any of the symptoms above, talk to your cancer doctor.
Since most people don't notice the symptoms of kidney disease, your cancer doctor will test your kidney function routinely.
If any of your results look strange, your cancer doctor will refer you to the UPMC Kidney Disease Center.
Our nephrologists have expertise in how cancer affects the kidney. We'll work with you to learn the cause of your kidney problems and help relieve them.
If you have cancer and kidney disease, you need a kidney doctor with vast knowledge of your cancer diagnosis and treatment.
At the UPMC Kidney Disease Center, treatment starts with finding a reversible cause of your kidney disease.
But treatment goals may vary based on your specific needs and might include:
Treating kidney disease caused by cancer is complex.
The experts at the UPMC Kidney Disease Center will help you design a treatment path that's right for you. We'll explain the treatments that will help you the most.
For people with electrolyte issues caused by cancer treatment, lifestyle changes can sometimes be enough to improve your kidney health.
You'll work with your kidney doctor and a nutritionist to:
There's a range of drugs that can support your kidneys during cancer treatment.
Your doctor may prescribe medicine to:
A sudden or acute kidney injury can cause it to have trouble cleaning waste from your blood. Your kidneys may need a little help from a dialysis machine.
Types of dialysis include:
In rare cases, people who have kidney damage due to cancer may enter kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease. A transplant is often the preferred treatment for kidney failure.
We work closely with the renowned experts at the UPMC Kidney Transplant Program to provide this life-saving care. We will guide you through every step of the process, from evaluation to recovery.
To learn more about the relationship between cancer and kidney disease: