The kidneys are the urine-producing organs that sit under the ribcage in the lower back. Not only do they filter waste, they also make sure the body produces enough red blood cells. As with any organ, cancer can grow in the kidneys.
Kidney cancer is one of the top ten most common cancers, and it is most often discovered in men over fifty, according to the American Cancer Society. Renal cell carcinoma is the medical name for the most frequent type of cancer that affects the kidneys.
Click through the slideshow to learn about the five most common symptoms of kidney cancer.
Blood in the Urine
Blood in the urine is called hematuria. According to the Kidney Cancer Association, hematuria is the most common sign of kidney cancer. If you have blood in your urine, you may see pink, brownish, or even a red discoloration.
Often even a small amount of blood can cause a color change. But, sometimes there is such a miniscule amount of blood that only a lab can detect blood during a urinalysis. Other causes of blood in the urine are bladder infection, kidney stone, cysts, or inflammation. If you see blood in your urine, it may be time to see your doctor.
Lower Back Pain
Most people don’t experience pain until cancer is in later stages. Pain from kidney cancer is felt on one side of the flank, the area above the pelvis, and below the ribs in the abdomen.
This pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp stab, often coming out of the blue. If you have any sudden pain that lasts more than a few days, you should see a doctor.
A Mass or Lump
A mass or lump in the abdomen can be a warning sign of kidney cancer. Kidney lumps may be difficult to feel because they are deep in the abdomen. Once a lump is discovered, your doctor may order diagnostic tests, such as an ultrasound or a CT scan. These tests may help determine what your lump may be.
Although lumps are always nerve-wracking, keep in mind that they are not always cancer.
Anemia and Fatigue
Fatigue is a well-known symptom of almost any cancer. Cancer fatigue is different than just feeling tired. Cancer fatigue isn’t resolved by sleep. It interferes with normal activities and can leave a person irritable and weak.
Anemia, the loss of red blood cells, can also cause fatigue and leave a patient looking pale. Unusual tiredness should always be investigated with a doctor
Weight Loss, Appetite, and Fevers
Another common cancer symptom is sudden and unexpected weight loss. This usually happens rapidly and not when the patient is trying to lose weight or dieting. A person with cancer can also lose interest in eating. Even their favorite foods can become unappealing.
Unexplained fevers may also point to kidney cancer, especially when combined with other symptoms.
To determine whether these symptoms indicate cancer, your doctor will run several tests, including a urinalysis and blood tests. These tests will discover any unusual blood chemistry and check your liver functioning.
If your doctor finds a lump, they may use imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI.
Your doctor may also take a biopsy to see if there are cancerous cells within the lump.
Unfortunately, kidney cancer often has no signs until later stages. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor quickly if you do have any of these symptoms. If you have a medical history that includes cancer, make sure you tell your physician.
Remember that there are many possible benign reasons for these symptoms other than kidney cancer. The earlier you are diagnosed with any disease, the more options you’ll have for treatment.