Sunday, March 8, 2009
Kidney Cancer & blood donation
Green is the color ribbon for kidney cancer. First let me tell you about kidney cancer:
Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the kidneys. To understand more about kidney cancer, it helps to know about the normal structure and function of the kidneys.
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist and weighing about 4 to 5 ounces. They are fixed to the upper back wall of the abdominal cavity. One kidney is just to the left and the other just to the right of the spine. Both are protected by the lower ribcage.The kidneys' main job is to filter blood and rid your body of excess water, salt, and waste products. The filtered waste products are concentrated into urine. Urine leaves the kidneys through long slender tubes called ureters that connect to the bladder. Urine flows down the ureters into the bladder, where it is stored until you urinate.
The kidneys also help make sure the body has enough red blood cells. It does this by making a hormone called erythropoietin, which tells the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.
Although our kidneys are important, we actually need less than one complete kidney to function. Tens of thousands of people in the United States are living normal healthy lives with just one kidney. Some people may not have any working kidneys at all, and survive with the help of a medical procedure called dialysis. Dialysis uses a specially designed machine that acts like a real kidney to filter the blood.
Renal cell carcinoma
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also known as renal cell cancer or renal cell adenocarcinoma, is by far the most common type of kidney cancer. It accounts for about 9 out of 10 kidney cancers.
Although RCC usually grows as a single mass within the kidney, sometimes tumors are found in more than one part of the kidney or even in both kidneys at the same time. Some renal cell carcinomas are noticed only after they have become quite large, but most are found before they metastasize (spread) to distant organs in the body. Often they are found on CT scans or ultrasounds being done for concerns other than kidney cancer. Like most cancers, RCC is hard to treat once it has metastasized.
I had a good friend pass away from kidney cancer. His name was Charlie and he served on my donor council for the blood center I work for. He believed strongly in volunteer blood donors and even when he was in pain from his cancer, he still came to volunteer. It made him sad that his cancer prevented him from doing one of the things he loved to do: Saving lives by donating blood.
75% of blood products used are used by cancer patients. Without these lifesaving units of blood, many cancer patients would not be able to have the chemotherapy that is killing the cancer in their bodies.
I have a favor to ask in Charlie's name: If you can donate blood, please do so. If you can't, then encourage someone to donate. No matter where you are, blood is life. Do something great today! Donate blood!