Kidney Cancer Research News

Findings from recent studies offer guidance about managing kidney cancer.

by Travis Marshall

Why Stay Fit With Cancer?

After a diagnosis of advanced kidney cancer, exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind, but research is showing that fitness activities may help people who have advanced cancers. For a review published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (December 2018), researchers analyzed data on possible benefits of exercise in people with a variety of advanced cancers. “Exercise appears to be an effective adjunct therapy,” they reported, for improving quality of life, psychosocial functioning, and sleep, as well as lessening fatigue.

Another study, published in Current Urology (November 2017), found that people in various kidney cancer stages who reported any physical activity were 50 percent less likely to die of their cancer than non-exercisers. According to Michael Liss, MD, the lead author and a genitourinary oncologist at UT Health in San Antonio, Texas, “The fact that any exercise at all was helpful was definitely a surprise.”

When Cancer Goes to Your Brain

Like most cancers, kidney cancer can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body, often to the brain. Not long ago, a diagnosis of brain metastasis meant a poorer prognosis with kidney cancer. Now, researchers have found that survival rates for kidney cancer that has spread to the brain are significantly better than before in people who develop the metastasis after their first treatment, according to a study published in Clinical Genitourinary Cancer (April 2019).

Out of 268 kidney cancer patients treated at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, 56 were also diagnosed with brain metastasis. Survival rates for those with brain cancer were remarkably better than expected—and not statistically different from those whose cancer hadn’t spread to the brain.

I’ll Have the Fruit Plate, Please!

Many fruits and vegetables get their vivid colors from phytochemicals produced by the plants. A review in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (2019) suggests that, in the future, these chemicals might become part of therapy for certain cancers.

The researchers assessed cancer-fighting properties for several phytochemicals commonly found in produce (as well as spices), such as quercetin, curcumin, capsaicin, and resveratrol, and found that these compounds did indeed have anticancer powers.

Other research has supported this idea. For example, a study published in Oncotarget found that consumption of fruits and vegetables had protective effects against renal cell carcinoma, or kidney cancer.

How many servings of fruits and veggies do you need to reap anticancer benefits? That we don’t know yet. But a diet rich in plant-based foods is known to have other positive health effects.

Travis Marshall
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Travis Marshall