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Tobacco Igniting More Kidney Cancer: April 10, 2014

Robert Wiseman worried that lung cancer might someday catch up with him.

“I was a heavy smoker for 30 years,” Wiseman says.

But he never considered kidney cancer - which did catch up with him.

“i didn’t feel it in my body, didn't know it was there. All I felt was the pain; thinking it was a kidney stone.”

“Mr. Wiseman came in and had gross blood in his urine,” says his urologist Dr. Paul Bretton, who is on staff at Lee Memorial Health System. “As part of his work up, we did a CAT scan in his abdomen, which scan showed about a 15 cm mass in his left kidney.”

A large tumor double the size of his left kidney. Kidney cancers that are fueled by tobacco are linked to more deadly and aggressive disease.

“There’s a lot of carcinogens in cigarette smoking and what they can do is change the cells in the kidney - to turn it to cancer cells. Or you could have a pre-disposition already there and it promotes the growth of those tumors. So that adds to the problem,” says Dr. Bretton.

Researchers find current and former smokers are nearly twice as likely to develop kidney cancer than people who never picked up the habit.  But for every decade a former smoker was smoke-free, the risk decreases by 9 percent.

“We checked if it had spread anywhere else and fortunately for him it was all contained to his kidney” .

Robert lost a kidney and learned a costly lesson.

“If it helped just one person to quit I would be happy,” Wiseman says.

His entire family snubbed out their cigarettes for good, he hopes his story will spark change in others.