Empowering and Supporting Patients this Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

By Amy Four and Autumn Ashby





March 20, 2024

Headshot of Amy Four

Amy Four

Senior Director, RCC

U.S. Oncology Marketing

Headshot of Autumn Ashby

Autumn Ashby

Associate Director, RCC

U.S. Oncology Marketing

At Eisai, we always give our first thought to the patient and their families, which is at the core of our human health care (hhc) concept. To that end, we are committed to addressing the unmet needs of the communities we serve, including those impacted by kidney cancer. March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month, and we are taking the opportunity to share information and resources about this disease and how to support the people it impacts.

Learning About Kidney Cancer

In the US, kidney cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women and the sixth most common cancer in men. In 2024, the American Cancer Society estimates that 81,610 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed and there will be an estimated 14,390 deaths as a result. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which accounts for 90% of diagnoses.

Some groups of people are at higher risk for developing RCC. African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives have a slightly higher risk compared to white Americans, and men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with RCC than women. Risk factors to be aware of include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and/or a family history of the disease.

Some signs and symptoms of RCC to look out for include blood in the urine (the most common symptom), a mass on the side or lower back, fatigue, weight loss, a fever that doesn’t go away and low red blood cell counts (anemia). However, some people don’t experience any signs or symptoms, which makes kidney cancer difficult to diagnose at early stages. In fact, it is often incidentally diagnosed during imaging scans for other conditions. Finding out you have kidney cancer under these circumstances can feel particularly shocking.

"In October 2022, I began experiencing nose bleeds which I found out were caused by a nasal tumor. Following a biopsy of the tumor, I was diagnosed with stage 4 renal clear cell carcinoma which had metastasized to my nasal cavity from my kidneys. I was shocked and very scared, not only for myself but for my family. I was fortunate that I had nosebleeds which allowed my cancer to be diagnosed when it was.

In my experience, the smallest symptom should be taken seriously, and people should be aware of the factors that increase their risk of developing kidney cancer."


Recognizing Common Challenges

Coming to terms with the diagnosis may bring on a range of emotions both for patients and their loved ones – they may feel anxious, depressed, overwhelmed or uncertain about their future. Learning new medical terminology, making important treatment decisions, and adjusting to lifestyle changes can feel daunting.

Other challenges patients may face include logistical issues, such as living far from a medical center or needing to secure transportation to and from their appointments, financial challenges, managing potential symptoms of the disease and/or side effects from their treatment. For those with advanced RCC, some challenges they encounter can feel even more overwhelming, especially if their cancer is progressing quickly.

"After my diagnosis, some challenges I faced included choosing the correct treatment plan for my cancer and where I was going to receive my treatment.

Adjusting to treatment side effects was also a challenge and due to my illness, I was unable to perform my job properly resulting in my early retirement."


Finding Support

It’s important for patients to have a strong support system to help them navigate challenges, including a dedicated caregiver who can advocate for them, especially if or when they cannot advocate for themselves. Connecting with advocacy organizations can also be helpful, as they can provide both educational resources and a sense of community – including the Kidney Cancer Research Alliance (KCCure), KidneyCAN, Kidney Cancer Association and the National Kidney Foundation, to name a few. For example, KidneyCAN provides numerous resources that can help kidney cancer patients understand their diagnosis, and the National Kidney Foundation shares information on everything from how the kidneys work to different types of treatment. It can also be beneficial for patients and caregivers to consider joining support groups through organizations like KCCure and the Kidney Cancer Association, where they can find support from others going through similar journeys with kidney cancer.

Of course, it’s important to help people living with kidney cancer try to stay positive in the face of adversity. While outcomes may vary for those with advanced RCC, there are still treatment options available, as well as the possibility of qualifying to participate in a clinical trial. To search for RCC clinical trials, people can visit www.clinicaltrials.gov and talk to their doctors for more information.

"I received tremendous positive support from my wife, family, friends and my faith. They've helped me remain positive and concentrate on my treatment. I have a few friends that are cancer survivors who've been a tremendous asset for me.

Having the opportunity to talk to someone who has been through the cancer treatment process is very comforting and emotionally beneficial. My care team has also been a great resource. They prepared me for what my life would be like while under treatment."


Elevating Awareness

Overall, the more people know about kidney cancer and the resources available to help support people impacted by it, the better. That’s why this Kidney Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage everyone to help raise awareness and consider finding opportunities to support this community. There are a number of ways you can get involved, including:

• Participating in the Kidney Cancer Association’s #OrangeUP initiative by wearing orange (the color that represents kidney cancer awareness) and sharing messages of support on social media with #OrangeUP

• Donating to kidney cancer organizations to support people impacted by the disease and ongoing research

• Connecting with local chapters of kidney cancer advocacy groups to identify volunteer opportunities

As an hhc company, we will continue to be relentless in supporting the kidney cancer community and conducting research in this space. Kidney cancer advancements have come a long way from where we were just 10 years ago, and patients today have more treatment options than ever before. However, we know there is still more work to be done. We are hopeful for the future and will continue striving to make a meaningful difference in the lives of kidney cancer patients, so they can achieve a brighter tomorrow.