March is National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. The kidneys, located at the back of the abdomen, perform several important functions throughout the body including filtering blood and removing the waste to the urinary system. They also control fluid balance in the body and regulate electrolytes. Each kidney, being between 4 or 5 inches long, is about the size of a fist. The two most common kidney cancer types are renal cell carcinoma and urothelial cell carcinoma.
Although kidney cancer does not have a specific known cause; there are several risk factors that may contribute to your risk of developing kidney cancer. These include: smoking or tobacco use, family history of hereditary forms of kidney cancer, being 50 years or older in age, being on dialysis treatment, or having chronic renal stones. Although each of these things may be risk factors, it does not mean that someone who has one or more of these risk factors will necessarily have kidney cancer. Likewise, some may develop kidney cancer that does not present any of these risk factors.
For those who have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, here are a few tips to focus on for staying healthy during and after kidney cancer diagnosis:
- Eat a well-balanced diet: Eating a diet full of all different kinds of food groups will not only help in getting the calories you need but also providing you with the right nutrition, including vitamins and minerals, that you need.
- Make sure you are getting enough of the right calories: Food is your body’s source of fuel. Getting enough calories throughout the day will help you in fighting cancer and having the energy to undergo treatments.
- Maintain your body weight during cancer treatment: The best option during cancer treatment is to make sure you are not restricting calories. When one restricts calories, typically essential nutrients are also not met which is needed to help in cancer recovery.
- Try to maintain a healthy body weight after treatment: One of the factors that can increase cancer recurrence is being overweight. Maintaining a healthy body weight will help reduce the risk of developing a recurrence.
- Stay hydrated: Water is necessary for your body to do what it is supposed to do. Drinking enough water will help you feel better and enable your body to perform its normal functions.
- Make exercise a regular activity: Exercise will help you feel better by providing your body with endorphins and making you feel hungry. This will help with appetite and therefore strength to deal with treatments.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day: Since food is fuel for your body, eating throughout the day will give you energy. Try not to go more than 2-3 hours at a time without eating something. You do not have to eat a lot, but providing at least a little bit of nutrition every few hours is helpful.
- Get support: If you are confused about what you should be eating or would like to talk with a registered dietitian about your diet, feel free to contact PearlPoint Cancer Support where you can get one-on-one nutrition support during and after cancer diagnosis and treatment.