The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located above the waist on either side of the spine. Their primary function is to filter and clean blood and produce urine. In adults, renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for around 90 percent of cancerous tumors. In young children, kidney cancer often presents as a disease called Wilms' tumor.
Kidney cancer appears to be on the rise. One reason may be an increase in diagnosis as advanced imaging techniques has led to the accidental discovery of more kidney cancers. When kidney cancer is detected early, as with most other cancers, it’s easier to treat.
In its early stages, kidney cancer generally presents no obvious signs or symptoms. As a kidney tumor grows, the symptoms may include:
- Blood in the urine.
- A lump or mass in the kidney area.
- Low appetite and weight loss.
- Recurrent fevers.
- Pain in the side that doesn't go away.
- General feeling of poor health.
- High blood pressure or anemia (rare).
- Age. Your risk increases as you age.
- Lifestyle.Smokers have a greater risk of kidney cancer than nonsmokers, with the risk decreasing after you quit. Obese individuals have a higher risk of kidney cancer than those of average weight.
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Dialysis People who receive long-term dialysis for kidney failure increase their risk of kidney cancer.
- Genetics. People who are born with specific inherited syndromes may have an increased risk. Examples include von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma or even familial renal cancer.