Kidney Cancer

kidney cancer inside

Definition of Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer—also known as renal cancer—is a disease in which kidney cells become malignant (cancerous) and grow out of control, forming a tumor. Most kidney cancers first appear in the lining of tiny tubes in the kidney. This type of kidney cancer is known as renal cell carcinoma.

Fortunately, most kidney cancers are found before they are able to spread to distant organs. Additionally, cancers caught early on are easier to treat successfully and potentially cure.

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

In many cases of kidney cancer, people may have no symptoms. But as the tumor grows larger, symptoms may start to appear. Patients may start to exhibit one or more of these kidney cancer symptoms:

  • Blood in urine (microscopic or gross)
  • A pain in side that doesn’t go away
  • A lump in side or abdomen
  • A loss of appetite
  • Fever that lasts for weeks and isn’t caused by a cold or other infection
  • Unexplained or sudden weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swelling in ankles or legs
  • Anemia

See our blog on the 7 Early Signs of Kidney Disease to learn more.

Causes of Kidney Cancer

Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can effectively double a person’s risk for kidney cancer in comparison to that of a non-smoker. Smoking cigars may lead to an increased risk as well.

Gender: Males are two times as likely as females to get kidney cancer.

Weight: Extra weight may cause changes to hormones, which could increase your risk.

High blood pressure: AKA Hypertension. Associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer.

Extended use of pain medications: This can include over-the-counter drugs in addition to prescription drugs.

Kidney disease: Having advanced kidney disease or being on long-term dialysis can increase risk of kidney cancer. Dialysis is a treatment for people with kidneys that have stopped working.

Genetics: Having certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease or inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma, can increase the risk of kidney cancer, especially in siblings.

Chemical exposure: Chemicals such as asbestos, cadmium, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides can increase risk.

Lymphoma: For reasons unknown, there is a link between increased risk of kidney cancer and patients with lymphoma.

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