Symptoms of Kidney Cancer: Are You at Risk?

May 7th 2016

Kidney cancer is one of the 10 most commonly diagnosed cancers in men and women aged 64 or older, with an estimated 6,560 new cases developing each year. The condition occurs when a single or multiple tumors develop either inside one or both kidneys or in the lining of the renal pelvis and bladder. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the two main types of primary kidney cancer are renal cortical tumors and transitional cell tumors.

In many cases, kidney cancer does not cause symptoms in its early stages. However, the condition can cause symptoms in its later stages that may be mistaken for minor illnesses or infections.

Kidney cancer is linked to chemical exposures, cigarette smoking and heredity, but also occurs for unknown reasons. Understanding the symptoms of kidney cancer and consulting a physician if the condition runs in the family or when symptoms arise can help to ensure efficient testing and prompt treatment.

Blood in Urine

One of the most common indicators of kidney cancer is blood in the urine, also referred to as hematuria. Individuals with hematuria may notice a red, rust-colored or pinkish tinge to their urine. Hematuria can also be detected with urinalysis tests, and because it may be caused by conditions such as kidney stones or bladder infections, people who notice blood in their urine should consult a physician as soon as possible.

Pain in the Lower Back Area

Individuals with kidney tumors may experience lower back pain that is typically felt beneath the ribs on one side of the flank. Lower back pain associated with kidney cancer may come on suddenly and cause a stabbing sensation.

Extreme Tiredness, Cancer Fatigue

Extreme tiredness or fatigue is a symptom that occurs with many cancers. The difference between general tiredness and cancer fatigue is that the issue is not usually resolved by a good night's rest. Individuals with cancer fatigue may also experience weakness and feel unusually irritable.

Abdominal Lumps or Swellings

Kidney cancer may also cause a lump or swelling to form in the abdominal area. In many cases, the growths cannot be felt due to the fact they may develop deep inside the abdomen. Ultrasound testing and computerized tomography (CT) scans may aid in the diagnosis of kidney tumors.

Weight Loss

Cancer of the kidneys can cause weight loss that typically comes on rapidly and is not due to diet or exercise. Individuals with kidney cancer may also experience a loss of appetite and unexplained fevers.

While the symptoms of kidney cancer tend to develop in the later stages of the disease, the condition is often treatable and curable when caught in time. Genetic testing procedures may also help to detect kidney cancer genes in individuals with a predisposition to the condition. Understanding the symptoms and risk factors of kidney cancer can help to improve the chances of early diagnosis and efficient treatment.

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