Kidney cancer, also called renal cell carcinoma (RCC), accounts for nearly four percent of all cancers in the United States. Each year, more than 62,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease. The risk of kidney cancer increases with age, but in general, it is more common in men than in women.
Most people have two kidneys. They are located below the ribcage near the middle of your back on each side of your spine. The kidneys work to:
- Filter waste from your blood
- Produce urine
- Control blood pressure
- Create red blood cells
Your body can function normally with one kidney. But if a tumor develops and grows in a kidney, its normal functions may be disrupted.
Would you know the symptoms of kidney cancer?
The symptoms of kidney cancer often don’t manifest until later stages of the disease. In fact, it is most commonly found by accident during routine imaging tests. Symptoms of kidney cancer can include:
Blood in the urine (hematuria)
One of the most common symptoms — it appears in 40 to 50 percent of people with kidney cancer — according to the Kidney Cancer Association.
Even a small amount of blood can affect a color change, from pink to brownish to red. Blood may only appear about every other day, and sometimes the amount is so small, it can only be detected during a urinalysis.
Lower back pain
The type of back pain that signals kidney cancer can vary. It can feel like pressure, a dull ache or a sharp pain. See a doctor if you have any kind of sudden, persistent pain lasting more than a few days.
A lump or mass in the kidney area
A lump in the abdomen, especially a hard, thickening or bulging bump, can also be a sign of kidney cancer. Kidney lumps are difficult to feel in the early stages because the kidneys sit deep in the abdomen.
Of course, not all lumps are cancer, but be sure to consult your doctor if you find a lump around your abdomen.
Fatigue and anemia
People who undergo cancer treatments say fatigue is one of the most difficult symptoms to manage. It’s very different than just feeling tired from lack of sleep. Not only is fatigue persistent and disruptive, it can intensify with time.
About 21 percent of people with kidney cancer have anemia (low red blood cell count). Healthy kidneys signal your body to make red blood cells, but cancer can interfere with that signaling. Anemia can also make fatigue worse, and cause shortness of breath, dizziness and pale-looking skin.
Unexpected weight loss
Weight loss usually happens quickly, as the tumor spreads to other organs. You may suddenly lose interest in eating, even if you’re not trying to lose weight.
Expert, compassionate kidney care in the Greater Chicago area
Fighting kidney cancer begins with excellent, dedicated and accessible care. Alpha Med Physicians Group is right here, providing advanced kidney cancer treatment in Greater Chicago. From Tinley Park to Homewood to Palos Heights, our highly trained, experienced oncologists are ready to do whatever it takes to help you beat cancer.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 708-342-1900 or click here to use our online form.