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Renal cancer

Kidney cancer is a disease of older adults. It is most commonly reported in people over the age of 60 years. It is more common in men than women. Upto 25 to 30% patients of kidney cancer may be asymptomatic. It may be accidentally detected during routine imaging tests like ultrasound. Kidney cancer symptoms don’t often appear until the tumour has spread to other organs or until the tumour is large.

The common signs and symptoms of kidney cancer are:

Blood in the urine (Hematuria)

Hematuria, or blood in the urine is the most common symptom. However, it appears in only 40 to 50 percent of people with kidney cancer. The blood in the urine may be gross (if it leads to a perceptible change in colour of urine) or microscopic (if red blood cells can be seen in urine on microscopic examination, but urine appears normal coloured on visual inspection). Even a small amount of blood can cause a colour change such as pink, brownish, cola colour or even red. Gross hematuria is less common than microscopic hematuria. The presence of blood in urine can be intermittent.

Flank Pain or Lower back pain

Back pain is also a symptom of kidney cancer. It may be seen in upto 40% patients. It may be localized to one side of the flank or below the ribs on the back. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp stab. Back pain caused due to a cancerous lump may be persistent, while that caused due to a strained muscle may reduce with time. Back pain caused due to kidney cancer may appear in the advanced stages of the disease only.

A mass or lump around your abdomen

A mass or lump in the abdomen, flank, or back can also be a sign of kidney cancer. But kidney lumps are hard to feel, especially in the early stages. That is because the kidneys are located deep in the abdomen.

The classic clinical triad of hematuria, flank pain, and a palpable flank mass occurs in only about 10% of cases and often indicates a more advanced stage of the disease.

Anaemia and fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of any type of cancer. Cancer-related fatigue is persistent and interferes with daily activities.

Many people with kidney cancer have anaemia, or low red blood cell count. Normally the kidneys signal your body to make red blood cells. Cancer can interfere with that signalling. Anaemia can also cause worsening fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pale looking skin.

Loss of appetite

Many cases of kidney cancer suffer from loss of appetite. This is usually seen in the advanced stage of the disease.

Unexpected weight loss

Unexpected weight loss, that is not caused due to exercise or restriction of diet, is the another common symptom of many cancers, including kidney cancer.


Fever may be a symptom of advanced kidney cancer. Long lasting fever, without signs of infection in the body, may be a signal of cancer.


High blood pressure may also be a sign of kidney cancer.

Swelling of the ankle or legs

Kidney cancer can manifest as painless swelling around the legs or ankle. The suspicion may be higher if the swelling appears on one side only. This happens due to blood clotting in the veins.


Rapid development of enlarged veins around the testicles, known as varicocele, may be sign of kidney cancer. This may happen due to blood clotting in the veins or backward pressure applied due to a large tumour.

The above mentioned symptoms may be caused by kidney cancer or by other types of cancer, but commonly these are caused by non cancerous conditions. For example, blood in urine may be due to a stone in the urinary system or due to urinary tract infection. However, if you experience any of these signs or symptoms, you should consult your doctor.


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