TV Star’s Kidney Tumor Grew for a Decade Undetected: How It Happens

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Cameron Mathison disclosed his diagnosis on Instagram. Getty Images
  • Kidney cancer is relatively common but can be difficult to diagnose.
  • Hallmark Channel host, Cameron Mathison, has put a spotlight on the disease after announcing his diagnosis earlier this month.
  • Symptoms can include blood in urine, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, and back or abdominal pain.

Hallmark Channel host and former “All My Children” star Cameron Mathison recently opened up about his diagnosis with kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma.

The 50-year-old actor first mentioned his diagnosis on the Hallmark Channel show he hosts, “Home and Family,” then later posted about it on Instagram, noting that his doctors found a large tumor on his right kidney during an MRI he was receiving for gastrointestinal issues.

“The good news is that it hasn’t spread to any other organs,” Mathison wrote. “They say my healthy lifestyle and diet has no doubt helped keep it from growing and spreading to other areas, as doctors think it’s been growing in me for minimum 10 years.”

He went on to explain he was lucky the tumor was caught early, and that he underwent surgery yesterday to remove the cancerous growth.

Kidney cancer is among the most common cancers in both men and women, and twice as likely to be diagnosed in men.

This year alone, approximately 73,820 adults will be newly diagnosed with kidney cancer, and about 14,770 are expected to die from the disease.

Symptoms vary from person to person, but commonly include blood in urine, loss of appetite, and extreme fatigue, along with abdominal and back pain.

If the cancer metastasizes, or spreads to other organs, it can affect other parts of the body as well — like the bones, lungs, liver, and brain.

In some cases, it can alter the body chemistry — i.e. increasing calcium levels — which can cause confusion or constipation, said Dr. Przemyslaw Twardowski, a medical oncologist, professor of medical oncology, and director of clinical research in the department of urology and urologic oncology at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Oftentimes, people won’t realize something is amiss until years after the tumor has started growing.

New tumors typically don’t cause any signs or symptoms. It’s not until they’re much larger that any symptoms pop up.

“Some of kidney cancers grow very slowly and may not cause symptoms for years,” Twardowski said.

Because of this, kidney cancer is frequently diagnosed by accident — as was the case with Mathison who was having his gut issues checked out and requested an MRI of his abdomen.

“People get X-ray or ultrasound studies for other reasons and a kidney cancer is identified,” explained Dr. Brian Hu, urology cancer specialist with Loma Linda University Transplant Institute in San Bernardino, California.

If the cancer is found early enough, it’s possible to cure it with surgery alone. However, if it progresses or spreads, medications such as immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy will likely be used to destroy the cancer cells.

Family history, smoking, obesity, and hypertension are all linked to kidney cancer.

Although there’s no scientifically-backed way to completely prevent the disease, health experts suspect people can lower their risk by modifying their lifestyle.

According to Mathison’s doctors, the actor’s healthy lifestyle most likely prevented the cancer from spreading to other organs, such as his lungs or lymph nodes.

“A healthy lifestyle and diet will definitely help when fighting this kidney cancer. Having a patient in good shape, who is exercising and not overweight/obese makes treating the cancer much easier with lower complication rates,” Dr. Hu said.

Cigarette smoking is known to be one of the main causes of kidney cancer, so cutting back on smoking can help drastically cut one’s chances of developing this cancer as well.

Hallmark Channel host and former “All My Children” star Cameron Mathison opened up about his diagnosis with renal cancer.

Doctors found a tumor on Mathison’s right kidney during an MRI he was receiving for gastrointestinal issues, and suspect it may have been growing for up to 10 years.

Health experts suspect Mathison’s healthy lifestyle helped contain the cancer.

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