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What is Kidney Cancer?

Cancers of the kidney may be of various types. Nearly 90-95% of kidney cancers are of the renal cell carcinoma variant. The disease mostly affects elderly people; however, young people may also be affected due to hereditary factors. Kidney cancer in children is extremely rare. The condition lacks specific signs and symptoms in the early stages, making it difficult to diagnose and treat.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The disease remains inconspicuous unless it reaches an advanced stage. Most patients are thus asymptomatic. The presence of the triad of these symptoms is a warning sign:

  1. Passing blood in urine
  2. Pain in the lower back on either/both sides or radiating to the abdomen (Read more: Back pain causes)
  3. Presence of a palpable mass in abdomen

Other symptoms include weight loss, which is sudden and unintended; loss of appetite; lethargy; and fever. Often, there are no symptoms, and the disease is diagnosed during an imaging test done for some other purpose.

What are its main causes?

Kidney cancer cannot be attributed to a single cause. Several factors increase the likelihood of developing renal cancer. These include

  1. Smoking, which doubles the risk
  2. Obesity with a body mass index (BMI) over 30
  3. Hypertension
  4. Exposure to aromatic chemicals such as benzene
  5. Long-term dialysis
  6. Receiving kidney transplantation

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Kidney cancer presents with very few symptoms, but renal cell carcinoma is known for being associated with a number of paraneoplastic syndromes, including high calcium levels and increased red blood cell count. Mostly, tests begin with a clinical history and examination. Upon a suspicion of any possible kidney disease, a battery of blood and urine tests will be done. If cancer is suspected or a mass is detected in the abdomen, imaging studies, such as MRI and CT scans, might be required. Also, an ultrasound, PET scan, and X-ray of the chest and bone might be done to understand the extent of metastasis.

Treatment varies based on the stage of kidney cancer. Treatment mostly consists of surgery wherein a part or the entire kidney may be removed depending upon the size of the tumour. It may be combined with chemotherapy.

  1. Medicines for Kidney Cancer
  2. Doctors for Kidney Cancer
Dr. Ashok Vaid

Dr. Ashok Vaid

31 Years of Experience

Dr. Susovan Banerjee

Dr. Susovan Banerjee

16 Years of Experience

Dr. Rajeev Agarwal

Dr. Rajeev Agarwal

42 Years of Experience

Dr. Nitin Sood

Dr. Nitin Sood

23 Years of Experience


  1. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Overview - Kidney cancer
  2. American Cancer Society. Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer. [Internet]
  3. Seth P Lerner et al. Kidney Cancer. Urol Oncol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2015 May 5. PMID: 23218074
  4. Garfield K, LaGrange CA. Cancer, Renal Cell. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  5. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Kidney Cancer

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