Early warning signs of kidney cancer
The signs and symptoms of kidney cancer that alert people and their doctors to its presence have changed dramatically in recent years. In the past, the classic triad of flank pain, blood in the urine, and a mass in the flank were most common.
In addition, the spread of kidney cancer to other parts of the body (metastatic disease) gives the first warning signs of the disease (such as a cough or bone pain) in 30 percent of people.
The most common sign of kidney cancer is blood in the urine (hematuria), which may make the urine look rusty or dark red. Other signs of kidney cancer may include:
- Low back pain or pressure on one side that doesn’t go away
- A mass or lump on the side or lower back
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
- A persistent fever not caused by infection
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Swelling of the ankles and legs
- In men, a cluster of enlarged veins, called a varicocele, around a testicle, typically, the right testicle
Lower back pain
Back pain is common in people over 40 years old. This is generally due to musculoskeletal injury or disk degeneration. Back pain is also less commonly a symptom of kidney cancer. About 41 percent of people with RCC report back pain. But most people don’t experience back pain until the cancer is in the later stages.
The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp stab on one side of your flank or below the ribs on your back. Your flank is the area between your lower back and the bottom of the backside of your ribs. It may also feel like side pain to some people.
Risks and prevention
Some individuals are more likely to develop kidney cancer than others. Risk factors include:
- age (as you get older, your chance of kidney cancer increases)
- high blood pressure
- treatment for kidney failure
- certain genetic or hereditary factors
- male gender