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Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

written by: BStone • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 9/12/2010

Recognizing kidney cancer symptoms as early as possible will make treatment of the tumor much more possible. What are the signs to be aware of?

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    glass of water Kidney cancer, including both renal cell and renal pelvis carcinoma, is a very serious form of cancer with well over 50,000 estimated new cases each year. Many people survive this illness, while for others, it is fatal. Recognizing kidney cancer symptoms and seeing a doctor immediately is one thing you can do to take control of your health and to increase the likeliness of survival. The earlier a tumor is detected, the less chance it will have to spread, and the easier it is to treat in most cases.

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    What Is Kidney Cancer?

    Kidney cancer occurs when a cancerous growth, otherwise known as a tumor, begins to form in the kidneys. Renal cell carcinoma refers to a growth in the lining of the tubes that act as a filtering point for blood and waste products. Renal pelvis carcinoma is a tumor at the center of the kidneys where urine is collected.

    What causes the symptoms? The symptoms of this disease, if they are experienced, are caused by the growing mass of cancerous cells within the organ. They may simply lead to general feelings of illness, pain in the area where the kidneys are located, or even blood in the urine. Regular medical check-ups and knowing how to recognize the signs of this disease can greatly increase the chances of being able to treat kidney cancer.

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    Symptoms

    What are the symptoms of kidney cancer? Signs that may manifest, although they usually do not appear in the early stages, include:

    • Blood in the urine — The kidneys filter out toxins and waste to be excreted from the body through urination. When there is a problem in the kidneys, such as abnormal cell growth, the presence of blood is one of the easiest signs to recognize. Look for a pink, red, or brownish color. One of the most simple ways to test for this disease is through a simple urine test. A small amount of blood in the urine could be indicative of a growing tumor. It may also be a sign of something else, such as a urinary tract infection.
    • Incessant back pain — The pain will be just below the ribs, where the kidneys are located. Again, do not wait for this sign as many people will not experience any pain or discomfort in the early stages.
    • Unexplained weight loss — Weight loss can be caused by many things, one of them being cancer. Be aware of your health, what you eat, how much you eat, etc. If you are losing weight for no apparent reason, make an appointment with your doctor to find out what the problem is.
    • Fatigue and general malaise — This again could be caused by many things, or even overlooked. Pay attention to how you normally feel. Are energy levels significantly lower?
    • Fever — As a symptom of kidney cancer, fevers may be intermittent, but persistent. Unlike a fever caused by some sort of infection in the body, they will be around for more than one week.

    These symptoms can also be indicative of other health problems. Going to the doctor as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis is essential.

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    Why Recognizing Symptoms Is Essential

    Once kidney cancer has metastasized, or spread beyond the kidneys, it is much more difficult to treat. The signs and symptoms of this disease are not always present until the later stages. This makes early detection difficult. Recognizing kidney cancer symptoms is a positive step towards addressing this illness. Be aware, be knowledgeable, and react. While facing a potentially fatal disease can be extremely difficult, facing it too late can be even more troublesome.

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    References

    Kidney Cancer Association <http://www.kidneycancer.org/knowledge/learn/therapies-for-advanced-kidney-cancer>

    Mayo Clinic <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-cancer/DS00360/DSECTION=symptoms>

    National Cancer Institute <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/kidney>

    American Cancer Society <http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/KidneyCancer/DetailedGuide/kidney-cancer-adult-diagnosis>

    photo by: Yoppy (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/spilt-milk/747236252/sizes/m/in/photostream/>