Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Executive Summary

Kidney cancer is diagnosed based on its symptoms. The signs and symptoms of the kidney region experienced by the individuals help describe a medical problem. The most common symptoms of kidney cancer include hematuria or traces of blood in the urine, high blood pressure, lower back pain or pressure on one side, not caused by injury, low appetite, excessive weight loss, anaemia, lump or mass in the lower back or side, swelling in the legs and ankles, fatigue, constant fever which is not caused by any specific infection, cold, flu, or other diseases rapid development or growth of a cluster of enlarged veins called varicocele in or around the testicle, specifically in the right testicle that may indicate the presence of a large size kidney tumor in the body. Other signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include the blood in the urine that can result from a kidney stone or a bladder or urinary tract infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancers in their initial stage do not portray any noteworthy signs or symptoms. But advanced or larger kidney tumors may display significant signs and symptoms. Most often, kidney cancers are detected when a person undergoes an imaging test like an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), ultrasound, or a CT (Computed Tomography) scan for any other reason. Early kidney cancers usually cause no pain. Signs and symptoms start to appear either when the tumor has larger or metastasized to nearby tissues and organs.

The following are the signs and symptoms likely to be experienced by a person with kidney cancer ​1​. In some cases, people with kidney cancers may not experience any signs or symptoms. In other instances, those who don’t have cancer experience the same signs and symptoms due to some other underlying disease condition or benign diseases.

  • Hematuria or traces of blood in the urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Lower back pain or pressure on one side, not caused by injury.
  • Low appetite
  • Excessive Weight loss
  • Anaemia, which refers to low red blood cell count 
  • A lump or mass in the lower back or side
  • swelling in the legs and ankles
  • fatigue
  • Incessant fever is not caused by any specific infection, cold, flu, or other diseases.
  • A rapid development or growth of a cluster of enlarged veins called varicocele in or around the testicle, specifically in the right testicle, may indicate the presence of a large size kidney tumour in the body. 

These signs and symptoms may indicate some other disease condition. For instance, blood in urine can result from a kidney stone or a bladder or urinary tract infection ​2​. But it’s always better to consult a healthcare specialist as and when you start observing and experiencing symptoms and signs to confirm your diagnosis and avail the necessary treatment and care.

If you are concerned about changes, please talk with your healthcare provider. The doctor may inquire about how long and how often you have been experiencing these signs and symptoms. The doctor may also ask additional questions to make out the diagnosis.

If kidney cancer is detected upon diagnosis, patients must know that managing and relieving signs and symptoms are essential for active cancer treatment and care. This can be called supportive care or palliative care. This is often started soon after the disease is diagnosed and is continued throughout the treatment. People should be open about the signs and symptoms they experience, including any new symptoms or a change in the existing symptoms. This will help the healthcare team to plan the treatment accordingly.

References

  1. 1.
    Vasudev NS, Wilson M, Stewart GD, et al. Challenges of early renal cancer detection: symptom patterns and incidental diagnosis rate in a multicentre prospective UK cohort of patients presenting with suspected renal cancer. BMJ Open. Published online May 2020:e035938. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035938
  2. 2.
    Shephard E, Neal R, Rose P, Walter F, Hamilton WT. Clinical features of kidney cancer in primary care: a case-control study using primary care records. Br J Gen Pract. Published online April 2013:e250-e255. doi:10.3399/bjgp13x665215