While kidney cancer is not as common as other forms of cancer, it is the sixth most common cancer in men and the tenth most common in women. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 64,000 people in the U.S. will have been diagnosed with kidney and renal pelvis cancer in 2017.
Symptoms can be signs of other diseases and conditions, so many patients tend to delay seeking treatment. However, there are some cues to the condition that people should note:
Blood in the urine
A lump in the abdomen
A pain in the side that doesn't go away
Loss of appetite
Weight loss for no known reason
While individually these symptoms should not necessarily cause alarm, when combined and with no other logical explanation, they can signal something serious.
The good news is that over the past several decades, new diagnostic technology has enabled physicians to detect kidney cancer sooner. In fact, more than 50% of the newly diagnosed cases each year are detected incidentally or when not suspected.
The important thing to remember is to manage your risk factors where you can. While some factors, like family history or having certain genetic conditions (such as von Hippel-Lindau disease or hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma) are out of your control, living a healthy lifestyle is.
Controllable risk factors for renal cell cancer include:
Misusing certain pain medicines, including over-the-counter pain medicines for long periods of time
Having high blood pressure
Kidney cancer can be treated through a variety of procedures, depending on the stage at which it is diagnosed. Surgery is the most common treatment.
Any time you see blood in your urine or feel an unusual lump in your abdomen, you should seek medical advice.