Kidney Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Kidney Cancer or Renal Cell Carcinoma is among the 10 most common cancers in the world. It is more commonly seen in men and its risk increases with an advancing age, with peak of incidence being 64 years as per data obtained from National Institute of Health.
While kidney cancer does account for a significant rate of mortality, you must know that early diagnosis of kidney cancer massively improves your chances of survival. A UK – based study found that early diagnosis improves survival rates by 70 to 94 % because the tumour is diagnosed at a stage where its spread is only localised. So, here, we are introducing you to the symptoms of kidney cancer to help you schedule an early physician appointment.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?
Hematuria or the presence of blood in the urine is one of the most common symptoms of kidney cancer. However, it is more commonly observed in females than in males. Almost 18 % of all patients with renal cancer complain of hematuria at some point of their disease.
Hematuria may be seen as a drop of blood in your urine, but, most likely, it is manifested as an orangish or pinkish discoloration of the urine. In some individuals, even a dark red colour may be noted.
Loin is the area between your lower ribs and hips. Loin pain or flank pain is commonly reported by patients of kidney cancer, which is not associated with any injury. Some may also complain of chronic pain in the lower back generally on one side.
If you are suffering from kidney stones, it is possible that you may associate this type of pain with the one experienced due to stones. But, you must note that the presence of kidney stones only elevates your risk of kidney cancer. So, if you feel unbearable pain in this region, it is advisable to seek medical attention regardless of your diagnosis of kidney stones.
In addition to pain, a peculiar loin mass may be perceptible by some individuals who routinely engage in physical examination. It may be felt as a small, soft lump or mass in the region of lower back or loin.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are noted in 11 % of patients with kidney cancer. The signs and symptoms of UTI include frequent micturition, inability to urinate despite the desire, pain / burning sensation / discomfort while urinating, inability / pain while holding urine during urgent situations.
So, if you often face these symptoms despite regular hygiene maintenance and optimal intake of water, you must be cautious.
Other than loin and lower back pain, some individuals may also face abdominal pain, most commonly, in association with UTI. In fact, back pain and abdominal pain, both, are almost equally reported by patients in clinical settings indicating that you must be watchful for such signs.
Proteinuria or the presence of proteins in your urine is something that will not be visible to your naked eyes, but, will become apparent upon a lab investigation. So, if you find proteinuria as an abnormal finding during your routine lab investigations, it is recommended that you immediately consult with your physician.
If you do not go for routine lab investigations, ‘foamy urine’ is generally a classic feature of proteinuria, and you must go for a urinalysis if you observe so.
Weight loss and fatigue are common signs of kidney cancer like most types of cancer. For overweight individuals, it is possible they must be trying to lose weight since a long time and suddenly get success without causing much change in their routine. While this is obviously great, isn’t it suspicious?
Unintentional weight loss in combination with hematuria / pain must raise your doubt of kidney cancer, especially in the presence of a positive family history of known risk factors like obesity.
Fever and Night Sweats
Fever depicts the ability of your body to ward off an infection. While it is a common finding in most infectious diseases, fever is infrequently noted as an early sign of cancer, which makes it a typical symptom of kidney cancer.
Along with fever, you may notice night sweats, which can affect the quality of your sleep due to frequent awakenings. If you do not wake up in the middle of the night, it is probable that you will be astonished to see a drenched shirt in the morning.
Often, because of these symptoms, your physician may suspect malaria or other infectious diseases. So, it is quintessential that you appropriately report your symptoms of hematuria and pain in order to clear this qualm. Overall, recurrent fever that does not resolve with the use of over – the – counter medications is something you must not ignore.
Although a very generalised symptom, worry, anxiety, irritability and sleep disturbances have been reported by almost 80 % of patients with renal cell carcinoma as per the findings of a recent cross – sectional study.
In the advanced stage of cancer with distant metastasis, weakness, fatigue, irritation, shortness of breath and feelings of worry were rather more common than typical symptoms of pain and hematuria indicating you must not ignore even the slightest of your concerns in the presence of risk factors.
Nausea and constipation are reported by approximately 5 to 6 % of the patients. Anemia, manifested as pale skin, fatigue, difficulty in concentration and frequent headaches, is complained by another 23 % of the patients, making it a commoner symptom than hematuria; however, the latter is more specific and confirmatory.
As the tumor advances and continues to extend around the gastrointestinal area, loss of appetite may also be noted. This will be manifested as a general disliking of food / a reduced intake of meals.
Overall, typical symptoms of kidney cancer like hematuria are less common than generalised symptoms like fatigue, pain or worry. So, you must always be vigilant and seek medical attention even on the slightest suspicion.
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