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Symptoms may not appear until kidney cancer is in advanced stages. If you experience any symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Many symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions. However, it is still important to discuss them with your doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health conditions.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine—The urine may appear brown, rust colored, or it may have visible blood clots in it. Anytime blood appears in the urine, even if there is no pain, it should be reported to your doctor. Small amounts of blood may not be visible but may be detected incidentally during a routine urine test.
  • Flank pain—Pain on the side of the body next to the backbone between the hips and ribs. Keep in mind that pain may be on one or both sides.
  • Sensation of an abdominal mass.
  • Fever of unknown origin—A persistent fever without any other signs of infection or without an apparent cause.
  • Malaise—General feeling of illness.
  • Loss of appetite—Can result in rapid, unintended weight loss.
  • Fatigue—Extreme tiredness that may not be resolved with adequate rest. It also may be caused by anemia, a reduction in red blood cells.

The kidney has several functions that affect the entire body. Other vague symptoms, like swelling in the legs from fluid collection (edema), may occur. Kidney tumors can also trigger other syndromes in the body, called paraneoplastic syndromes. They occur when the tumor secretes hormones that influence bodily functions.

References:

General information about renal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/patient/kidney-treatment-pdq. Updated July 7, 2015. Accessed December 29, 2015.

Kidney cancer. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneycancer. Accessed December 29, 2015.

Kidney cancer (adult)—renal cell carcinoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003107-pdf.pdf. Accessed December 29, 2015.

Renal cell carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114704/Renal-cell-carcinoma. Updated March 14, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.

Renal cell carcinoma (adenocarcinoma of the kidneys). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/genitourinary-cancer/renal-cell-carcinoma. Updated November 2013. Accessed December 29, 2015.



Last reviewed May 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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