Seahawks Jesse Williams To Undergo Surgery for Kidney Cancer

Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle Jessie Williams, nicknamed “Tha Monstar,” is used to “battling it out” on the football field.

Now he plans to use some of those skills to “tackle” a serious health condition. The 24-year-old Australian was diagnosed with Type 2 papillary carcinoma of the kidney. He will undergo surgery to remove the cancerous kidney tumor.

In a statement released by the Seahawks, Williams said:

“Although disappointing, I am a fighter and will handle this. I am going to focus on my health and fighting this battle with a return to football as my ultimate goal. Thank you for your thoughts and support. Go Hawks!”

On behalf of the Seahawks, Executive GM John Schneider showed his support: “Jesse is an extraordinarily tough individual who has overcome a great deal in his life and we will support him in any way possible. He is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Williams was born to Indigenous Australian parents and grew up in Brisbane Australia. Although he started playing football in the US at Arizona Western College, he was later recruited by the University of Alabama and played defensive end for the Crimson Tide. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, although he did not play much because of knee injuries.

A Brief Anatomy Lesson: The Kidney

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Every day, the two kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side the bladder.

KidneyAnatomy_01The substance of the kidney is divided into two major structures: the outer renal cortex and the inner renal medulla.

Within the medulla are 8 or more cone-shaped sections called the renal pyramids. The areas in between the pyramids are called the renal columns. The inner pointed tip of pyramid is called the papilla. The papilla is attached to a small tube called the minor calyx. It is the smallest section of the urine collection system. Groups of minor calices join together to form a major calyx, and a major calices join together to form the renal pelvis. The renal pelvis narrows to become the ureter passing urine down to the bladder.

What is Papillary Kidney Cancer?

There are three main types of kidney cancer. Renal cell cancer is the most common type in adults and Wilms tumors are the most common in children. These types form in the tissues of the kidney that make urine. Transitional cell cancer forms in the renal pelvis and ureter in adults.

Renal cell cancer (RCC) (also called kidney cancer or renal adenocarcinoma) is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the lining of tubules (very small tubes) in the kidney. The majority of kidney cancers (60-70%) begin in the renal cortex. Papillary RCC, which originate in the renal papilla, is the second most common form of kidney cancer, making up approximately 15% of cases.

Papillary carcinomas can develop as individual or multiple tumors, appearing either in the same kidney or in both kidneys. There are two types of papillary cancers, type 1 and type 2 distinguished by how they appear under a microscope. Type 1 are more common and usually grow slowly. Type 2 papillary tumors represent more than one category of disease but, as a group, are much more aggressive and may follow an unpredictable growth pattern.

Papillary carcinomas have been associated with genetically inherited syndromes, including hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma (HPRCC) and hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC).

What are the symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by renal cell cancer or by other conditions. There may be no signs or symptoms in the early stages. Signs and symptoms may appear as the tumor grows, and include:

  • Blood in the urine.
  • A lump in the abdomen.
  • A pain in the side that doesn’t go away.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Anemia.

Risk factors for renal cell cancer include the following:

  • Smoking.
  • Misusing certain pain medicines, including over-the-counter pain medicines, for a long time.
  • Having certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease or hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma.

Treatment depends on the patient’s age, overall health and how advanced the cancer is. It might include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or biologic therapy. Biologic therapy boosts a person’s own ability to fight cancer.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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