Kidney cancer, also referred to as renal cell carcinoma (RCC), is among the top 10 cancers found in men. About 40,000 new cases are reported each year, with a majority of them being in men over 40, who fall into the high-risk category. The good news is that there’s a very high survival rate, so it’s important to look for the warning signs to diagnose the disease early.
What are the most common signs of kidney cancer?
The most common symptoms tend to show up in the lower back area, or are evident in urine.
1. Blood in your urine
This is the most common symptom and typically the earliest sign of kidney cancer. Even the slightest amount of blood will affect the color of your urine, giving it either a brown or pink discoloration. You may also experience difficult or painful urination.
2. Pain or discomfort in your side or back of the abdomen
This is a persistent, strong pain in your side that may be accompanied by a lump as well.
3. A loss of appetite
Kidney cancer may cause a loss of appetite and in turn a sudden weight loss not caused by conscious dieting.
4. An unexplained fever lasting longer than normal
This fever is different than others as it typically lasts for weeks and there isn’t a specific cause to associate it with such as a cold or other infection.
5. Extreme fatigue and weakness
People with kidney cancer experience constant and extreme tiredness and a feeling of weakness throughout the body.
Who is at high risk for kidney cancer?
Doctors are still unable to pinpoint the exact cause of kidney cancer, however they have picked up on a few common factors that may increase one’s risk. The number one factor is age. Kidney cancer is more prevalent in people over the age of 40 and continues to increase with each passing year. Other risk factors that may increase your chance of getting kidney cancer include:
- High blood pressure
- Being male
- Being obese or having diabetes
- Genetic conditions/ family history of kidney cancer
- Race (rates are higher in African-American and Hispanic individuals)
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms similar to those of kidney cancer or you feel you are at high risk due to the common risk factors, it’s a good idea to get tested. Testing is rather quick and painless. Doctors will just need a simple blood and urine test from you. If further testing is needed, your doctor will most likely refer you to a radiologist to get a CT scan, PET scan, MRI or ultrasound.