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 cancer. 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, and low appetite.

Other symptoms such as excessive weight loss, anemia, lump or mass in the lower back or side, swelling in the legs and ankles, fatigue are also common. 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 diagnosed when people undergo imaging scans such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), ultrasound, or a CT (Computed Tomography) scan for other purposes. Early kidney cancers usually cause no pain. Signs and symptoms start to appear either when the tumor has become larger or metastasized to nearby tissues and organs.

The following are the signs and symptoms. In some cases, people with kidney cancers may not experience any signs or symptoms. In other instances, those who do not 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 without 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 tumor in the body. 

Concern and Care

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 ​1​. But it is always advisable 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 know more about 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 is known as supportive care or palliative care. This is often begins soon after cancer diagnosis and continues 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.


  1. 1.
    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