Unfortunately, kidney cancer rarely causes visible signs or symptoms in its early stages.
In the later stages, the most common sign of both renal cell and transitional cell cancers is blood in the urine (hematuria). Most of the time renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is now found incidentally, during physical examinations for other problems, by imaging studies such as ultrasound, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You may notice the blood when you urinate, or your doctor may detect blood from a urinalysis, a test that specifically checks the contents of your urine.
Other possible signs and symptoms may include:
- Flank pain: pain on one side of the body between the upper abdomen and the back
- Abdominal Mass: a mass in the area of the kidneys discovered during an examination
- Anemia: a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal
- Fever: not due to cold or flu
- Unexplained weight loss, often rapid
- Fatigue and general feeling of poor health
When to Seek Medical Advice
See your physician right away if you notice blood in your urine. In most cases, blood in the urine does not mean you have kidney cancer. Blood in the urine can be a sign of many conditions, including kidney stones, prostate problems, urinary tract infections or a non-cancerous cyst on the kidney. It is important that you determine the cause of it as soon as possible.
If you think you may be at risk of developing kidney cancer or develop any of the signs and symptoms listed above, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor. He or she may suggest ways to reduce your risk and can schedule regular checkups. Again, if kidney cancer is diagnosed early, it is much easier to treat and your chances of a successful outcome increase substantially. As with most other cancers, however, once the cancer has metastasized (spread to other organs or parts of the body), treatment is more difficult and the prognosis is less positive.