A normal human being has two kidneys, one on either side of the spine, and each is approximately the size of a fist. The kidney plays a vital role in discharging excess fluids and toxins from the body. Kidney cancer develops when there's malignant cell growth of kidney cells.
The uncontrollable cell growth may be difficult to detect in the initial stages. X-ray and ultrasound are common techniques that can detect kidney cancer in patients. This piece covers the early signs and symptoms of kidney cancer.
People with kidney cancer may not show any symptoms until the cancerous tumor develops. However, blood traces in urine are often the most common symptom associated with kidney cancer. Sometimes, the traces of blood may be undetectable using the naked eye, which makes urine tests necessary when diagnosing kidney cancer.
However, blood in urine is not always a confirmation of kidney cancer. Bloody urine can also be due to Kidney stones, bladder, and urinary tract infections.
Besides hematuria (blood in urine), below are other symptoms of kidney cancer:
• If you experience persistent pain and discomfort in the lower back or one side of your body; this pain lingers on even after administering pain killers
• Sudden and unexplained weight loss
• Unusual tiredness or fatigue
• A persistent fever that is not a result of a cold or flu
• Development of lumps or growths on the lower back or side
• A lack of appetite
• A lower than normal concentration of red blood cells
Though many types of kidney cancer exist, renal cell carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma are the two most common variants. The renal cell is the most prevalent variant and mostly develops along with the tiny tube linings within the kidney. Renal carcinoma mostly develops as a single tumor, but multiple tumors can occur in rare cases.
Transitional carcinoma is a type of kidney cancer that doesn't start within the kidney but rather the renal pelvis. The renal pelvis is where the ureters link up with the kidneys. Kidney cancer is more common in males than females.
The unusual cell growth in skin and breast cancers is easier to detect than kidney cancer. The location of the kidneys, deep inside the abdominal cavity, makes it more challenging to look and feel for cancerous growths.
While mammograms and other screening tests are ideal for detecting breast and other cancers, they are not suitable for diagnosing kidney cancer, especially in people who are not at risk of the disease. Instead, many doctors turn to computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to pick up any traces of kidney cancer in patients.
When looking for kidney cancer symptoms, your doctor may press lightly on your abdomen or back to feel for any lumps. If the clinician suspects the presence of cancerous growth, an MRI or CT scan will follow to confirm if you have kidney cancer. If the tests return positive for kidney cancer, the doctor will conduct further tests to determine the kidney cancer stage and whether cancer has spread to other body parts.
Kidney cancer is treatable when detected early. Treatment options for kidney cancer patients include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Book an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent symptoms that could hint at kidney cancer.