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Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

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Kidney Cancer Symptoms

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According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 58,240 people in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer (35,370 men and 22,870 women) and about 13,040 people will die from this disease. As with all cancers, early diagnosis of kidney cancer dramatically improves the chance for survival. Although the prognosis of kidney cancer is relatively poor for kidney cancer that is advanced (metastasized), promising new treatments are improving the outlook for patients. These statistics include adults and children and include renal cell carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis. The majority of patients diagnosed with kidney cancer are over the age of 45 with the highest incidences between the ages of 55 and 84.

Kidney cancer doctor at UCLA with a patientSigns and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

What are signs or symptoms of kidney cancer?
Unfortunately, kidney cancer rarely causes visible signs or symptoms in its early stages. In the later stages, the most common sign of both renal cell and transitional cell cancers is blood in the urine (hematuria). Most of the time RCC is now found incidentally, during physical examinations for other problems, by imaging studies such as ultrasound, CAT scan or MRI. You may notice the blood when you urinate, or your doctor may detect blood from a urinalysis, a test that specifically checks the contents of your urine.

Other possible kidney cancer symptoms may include:

  • Flank pain - Pain on one side of the body between the upper abdomen and the back.
  • Abdominal Mass - a mass in the area of the kidneys discovered during an examination
  • Anemia - a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal
  • Fever - not due to cold or flu
  • Unexplained weight loss, often rapid
  • Fatigue and general feeling of poor health

Kidney Anatomy and link to more infoSee your physician right away if you notice blood in your urine.

In most cases, blood in the urine does not mean you have kidney cancer.Blood in the urine can be a sign of many conditions, including kidney stones, prostate problems, urinary tract infections or a non-cancerous cyst on the kidney. It is important that you determine the cause of it as soon as possible by discussing your symptoms and concerns with your doctor.

In addition to a medical history and physical exam, diagnostic tests include blood and urine studies; imaging tests including ultrasound and computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); a cystoscopy to provide a view of the bladder, urethra and kidneys; and a biopsy.

If cancer is found, these tests also help to determine the cancer’s stage – whether it is confined to the kidney, has spread to surrounding tissue or a nearby lymph node, or has moved to distant parts of the body.


At UCLA Urology, Our Kidney Cancer Mission is You

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Patient Story

Meet Our Doctors

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Unfortunately, cancer runs in Barbara Pytlewski’s family. Years ago, she and her brother learned they have Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition associated with a high risk of developing colon cancer, as well as an increased likelihood of urinary tract, uterine and liver cancers.

The Department of Urology at UCLA is one of the most progressive and comprehensive urology programs in the country. Our faculty members work side by side with research scientists for new cures and treatments for kidney cancer.

Our goal is to provide you with fast, easy access to the physicians and services at UCLA. For assistance in determining which UCLA urologist(s) may have expertise to help you, please call the Urology Appointment phone number:

Phone: (310) 794-7700

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