Most people have two functioning kidneys, each working independently of the other. Otherwise, healthy cells can change or grow out of control, forming a mass or tumor. Malignant and indolent tumors are both cancerous tumors found with kidney cancer. Malignant tumors can grow and spread outside the kidneys to other body parts. While an indolent tumor is also cancerous, it typically is contained within the kidney, rarely spreading outside the organ. It is also possible to have a benign kidney tumor that can grow but won’t spread.
Some risk factors for Kidney Cancer are:
Age: Kidney cancer is usually diagnosed in people between 50 and 70 years old.
Gender: Men develop kidney cancer 2 - 3 times more than women.
Race: African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives are higher-risk populations for kidney cancer.
Smoking: Smoking cigarettes doubles one’s risk of developing kidney cancer.
Medications: Overuse of certain painkillers containing Phenacetin, which was banned in the United States in 1983, has been linked to transitional cell carcinoma. Diuretics, analgesic pain medication such as aspirin or acetaminophen, and ibuprofen also have been linked to kidney cancer.
Exposure: Working with certain substances found in batteries, paints, or welding materials and exposure to the metallic element cadmium may increase this risk for kidney cancer.
Family history: Certain hereditary conditions or syndromes have an increased risk.
A first-degree relative with kidney cancer (parents, brothers, sisters, children) increases a person’s risk.
If extended family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and cousins, also have been diagnosed with kidney cancer before the age of 50.
More than one tumor in the same kidney and/or cancer in both kidneys.
Medical history: People with chronic kidney disease but not yet on dialysis may be at a higher risk. People with advanced kidney disease and on long-term dialysis may develop cancerous cysts in their kidneys. If they are found early, they can often be removed successfully before any cancer has spread.
Weight: Very obese people are at a higher risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, possibly due to a change in certain hormones associated with the disease.
Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Cancer are:
Presence of blood in the urine
Back or side pain or pressure
Mass or lump on the back or side
High blood pressure
Loss of appetite
Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained fever (not from illness or infection)
Rapid onset/growth of a cluster of enlarged veins on a man’s testicle (most often the right testicle)
Many of these symptoms can have other causes besides cancer. So it’s important to discuss changes in your health with your provider.
Screening & Diagnostic Testing:
A complete physical exam and medical history should be made. The exam will check for any unusual physical signs. A complete medical history is also important to fully understand a person’s health habits, family history, previous illnesses, and past exposure. Additional testing may include:
Imaging: XRay, MRI, Intravenous pyelogram (IVP), Cystoscopy and nephroureteroscopy
Helpful Patient Resources:
We understand that receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a very scary and emotional time for patients and their families. Therefore, discussing any questions or concerns, you may have with your oncologist is very important. We highly recommend that if you do any research about your disease, you do so only with reputable sources. For your convenience, we’ve listed some below.