Kidney Cancer Symptoms
Responsibly Identifying Kidney Cancer Symptoms
Kidney cancer, medically speaking renal cell carcinoma, has various manifestations leading to extreme levels of fatigue, weight loss, and back pain in more than 50,000 people diagnosed with it in the United States last year. While some kidney cancer patients are not diagnosed until their cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body, for many, the diagnosis is not necessary the end-of-the-road. Modern advancements in surgical procedures, promising treatment options and diagnostic protocol have changed the outlook for many with cancer of the kidneys.
A Little Background
Two bean shaped organs that take on the dirty job of cleaning your blood of waste products and turning it into urine, each kidney is about the size of a clenched fist. These cleansing organs are located on either side of your spine within your lower abdomen, with most local cancers being caught before they spread to other organs. Renal cell carcinoma arises with cells in the kidneys become cancerous, usually growing into a tumor, most usually first appearing in the lining of the kidney’s tubules.
Doctors are still unsure of what causes cancerous growth in kidney cells, but they have documented high prevalence of cases in certain subgroups. Kidney cancer is found in high rates for those with a relevant family history, smokers, the obese, males, African Americans, chronic users of pain medication, those exposed to certain chemicals, those with high blood pressure, or those with lymphoma. These factors do not guarantee development of kidney disease, rather indicate an elevated risk and give reason enough to keep an extra eye out.
Potential Red Flags
Although for many in the early stages of kidney cancer often experience no identifiable symptoms, once a tumor has grown large enough, many patients will start to amass a host of worrisome symptoms. Symptoms may include blood in the urine, extreme fatigue, random weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal lumps or pains, anemia, or swelling of the legs and ankles. If you experience shortness of breath, start coughing up blood, or have pain in your bones, these could be signs that the cancer has advanced and spread to other parts of the body.
Once at the Doctor
When examining a patient for kidney cancer, doctors perform a thorough examination to try and rule out other causes before making a diagnosis. They will check for a fever and high blood pressure, two common signs that the body uses to indicate it is in distress, along with checking for swelling or lumps in the abdomen. They will gather information about your health history and tendencies, as well as running blood and urine tests to make a positive or negative diagnosis. Other methods medical professionals use to check the kidneys for cancer may be an ultra sound or CT scan to obtain a more detailed picture, sometimes using an injected dye to get a better picture.
Sometimes, it’s a coincidence
While the symptoms associated with kidney disease are alarming and can be severe or life-threatening, it may simply be an unfortunate combination of symptoms. Doctors are trained to “think horses, not zebras. That chronic back pain, loss of appetite and high fever may be resulting from a much less severe illness not even resembling a cancerous kidney mass, but it is always the responsible thing to do to visit a professional if you are having any worries.