The month of March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month, so we wanted to use our blog to bring awareness and explain how a urologist can benefit your kidney health. The providers at Alliance Urology Specialists have years of experience diagnosing and treating kidney stones, kidney cysts, and kidney cancer. To help you make informed decisions about your health, we’re delving into our three kidney conditions and sharing everything you need to know, from symptoms to treatment and everything in between.
Alliance Urology Specialists and Kidney Health
One of the key differences between urologists and other kidney specialists known as nephrologists is the fact that urology is considered a surgical specialty, while nephrology is not. The providers at Alliance Urology specialize in the following three kidney conditions that can occur in both men and women:
Kidney stones occur when waste builds up in the urine and hardens, forming a solid object or “stone” in the kidneys. Unless the stone is passed in the urine, it stays in the kidneys and grows in size, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as changes in urine, severe pain on either side of the back, fever, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and more. Kidney stones can result from genetic disease of mineral metabolism, dehydration, UTIs, or digestive diseases. They are more common in people who have a family history of kidney stones or those who have a high protein, sodium, calcium, or oxalate diet.
A urologist is capable of both diagnosing and treating kidney stones. At Alliance Urology Specialists, a diagnosis is formed through imaging, stone analysis, or blood or urine testing. Then, once a diagnosis is formed, your urologist will choose an appropriate treatment method, depending on the size of the kidney stones. Common treatment methods include medication, soundwaves to break up the stones, or surgical removal of large kidney stones. Rarely does this require any incisions or overnight hospital stay.
Kidney cysts are pouches of fluid that form on or inside the kidneys. Many kidney cysts are not a cause for concern and do not cause symptoms, but in cases where the cyst gets too large or begins to cause problems with the flow of blood or urine, it may cause abdominal pain, fever, or a dull backache in the side or lower portion of the back. In some cases, kidney cysts may signify serious disorders such as polycystic kidney disease. A urologist uses imaging techniques to diagnose a kidney cyst, such as an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound. If the kidney cyst is causing pain, blockages, or impairing kidney function, it can be removed by laparoscopic surgery.
One of the main aspects of kidney health that can be diagnosed and treated by a urologist is kidney cancer. There are many different types of kidney cancer, but the most common is a variation of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC typically grows as a single tumor within a kidney but can occasionally lead to two or more tumors within the same kidney or tumors on both kidneys simultaneously. The early stages of kidney cancer are generally asymptomatic. Still, as the disease progresses into further stages, some symptoms include recurring fever, persistent pain in the back or side, and blood in the urine. If kidney cancer is suspected, your doctor may use imaging techniques or a biopsy to form a diagnosis. While chemotherapy and radiation are commonly used as cancer treatments, these methods are minimally effective when treating kidney cancer. This is why surgery, including partial nephrectomy and radical nephrectomy, is the most effective treatment for kidney cancer.
Make an Appointment
For problems with your kidney health, schedule an appointment with one of our providers. Our team has years of experience treating issues pertaining to the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys. For questions and inquiries, please call our office in Greensboro at (336) 274-1114.