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What to Know After Receiving a Kidney Cancer Diagnosis: ‘Seek Speciality Care,’ Expert Says


In a recent interview with Cancer Horizons®, the medical liaison for KidneyCAN, discussed the basics of kidney cancer and what she thinks patients should know.

Patients who have recently received a diagnosis of kidney cancer may experience confusion about their disease and sorting through what information will be relevant to their disease and their care.

In a recent interview with Cancer Horizons®, Susan Poteat, medical liaison for KidneyCAN, discussed the basics of kidney cancer and what she thinks patients should know.

Poteat herself is a caregiver after her husband was diagnosed with the disease in 2007.

Cancer Horizons®: How do you navigate the different types of kidney cancer when you’ve just received a diagnosis?

Poteat: Most people who have just received a diagnosis have received a diagnosis that they have a mass in their kidney; they don't know what kind of kidney cancer they have.

I would tell all patients that this is the time to get with someone with expertise in kidney cancer. If you have a mass in your kidney, you have time to get a second opinion. And you want to go to a major National Cancer Institute (NCI) site, someone with a urologic oncologist with a great deal of experience in kidney cancer. They are going to be aware when the pathology results come back whether you need to go to a specialty center with expertise in the very rare subtypes.

So getting to that first oncologic surgeon, or oncologic urologist is the key in making sure your subtype is identified correctly and that you’re referred to the right oncologist for any follow up care you might need.

Can you explain the difference between renal cell carcinoma and clear cell renal cell carcinoma?

When we say renal cell carcinoma, it's a generic word for any type of kidney cancer. The cancer is biopsied or removed and they look at it in pathology. That's when we begin to know what's the subtype.

Clear cell is the most common subtype, but there are many others like papillary (carcinoma). And there are many other rarer subtypes. Many of those are treated quite differently. So once again, that's why expertise is important.

Is there anything that every single kidney cancer patient should do after diagnosis or is everything type-specific?

Every single kidney cancer who can manage it should get to a specialist; this is a fairly rare cancer and they will be treated much better if they seek specialty care.

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