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What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer often causes no symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer grows, signs and symptoms like those listed below may develop:

Blood in the urine. Called hematuria, blood in the urine is one of the most common signs of kidney cancer. Hematuria can be caused by other tumors, such as bladder cancer or prostate cancer tumors. Benign conditions, such as kidney stones and infections, may also cause it. You may be able to see the blood easily in your urine. Or the blood cells may show up only after a sample of your urine is examined under a microscope.

Pain in the side or lower back. Side and back pains that are not associated with an injury can also be symptoms of kidney cancer. Pain is caused by the tumor growing and pushing against nearby organs. It is usually felt on one side only.

A mass or lump in the kidney area. If you feel a lump in the kidney area (the lower back or side) and have not had an injury, a tumor may be present. Pain may accompany the lump.

Fatigue. Chronic, unexplained tiredness is a common problem for people with cancer and is usually associated with anemia, which is a decreased red blood cell count that can be detected on blood tests. This can be caused by almost all tumors, as well as by many benign or noncancerous diseases.

Rapid weight loss. Unexplained weight loss, which means losing weight without trying, can be a symptom of kidney cancer.

Other symptoms. Here are some other symptoms:

  • Fever without a cold, flu, or other known cause

  • Leg and ankle swelling

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember: These symptoms may be caused by kidney cancer or by other less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor to be sure.