Early kidney cancer symptoms can be very subtle and easy to miss unless you are paying attention. The risk of developing kidney cancer sometime in your life is 1 in 63 or 1.6%.
Factors that increase your risk include smoking, obesity, and exposure to certain substances such as cadmium, herbicides, and organic solvents.
Many of the early kidney cancer symptoms could have other causes such as a urinary tract infection, a viral respiratory infection, or a problem with one of your abdominal organs.
A general ill feeling that lasts for more than a few days is cause for concern. Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss are also serious symptoms that something is wrong.
These types of symptoms may or may not be related to any kidney cancer. But they are definitely a reason to make an appointment with your doctor for evaluation.
Weakness, Fatigue, Difficulty Concentrating, Shortness of Breath, Dizziness
Anemia or a low red blood cell count is another symptom that may or may not be related to a problem with your kidneys but it is something that should not be ignored.
Your kidneys play a role in stimulating your bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
and the Surrounding Anatomy
Image thanks to Gray's Anatomy, via Wikimedia
Other Possible Causes of Anemia
When your kidneys are not working correctly not enough red blood cells are produced. Without enough red blood cells there is not enough oxygen being delivered to your muscles and brain.
Other possible causes of anemia include improper diet, diseases of your bone marrow, autoimmune diseases, and chronic infections.
High Blood Pressure that is
difficult to Control
Your kidneys also play an important part in regulating your blood pressure.
When your kidneys are not working correctly because of a tumor or other problem your blood pressure may be difficult to control even with medications.
Hypertension is Dangerous
If you take medication to control your blood pressure but it is still higher than 140/90 you will need to discuss it with your doctor.
Whether it means you have kidney cancer or not; high blood pressure is dangerous and needs to be controlled.
Elevated body temperature is another sign that has many possible causes including cancer. Anytime your temperature by mouth is over 100°Fahrenheit without an explanation, such as a known infection or having a cold or other illness, you need to be seen by your doctor.
Blood in your Urine
You may begin to notice streaks of red in your urine or it may become a rusty red color. Find out more about kidney disease at Important Warning Symptoms of Kidney Disease.
Many early kidney cancer symptoms are very general in nature, but pain is not. When you are having pain that is coming from one of your kidneys you will often recognize it as kidney pain if you know where your kidneys are located.
Your kidneys are located on either side of your spine in the middle of your back. The bottom edge of your ribs on each side is over the middle of your kidney.
In the beginning your pain may be subtle and easy to ignore.
The Renal Capsule
Each of your kidneys is wrapped in a layer of tough connective tissue called the renal capsule.
This renal capsule fits very tight around your kidney as it protects and supports it.
Swelling Leads to Pain
Any swelling from an infection, a tumor, or other kidney cancer symptoms within your kidney will begin to stretch this capsule and the pain will begin.
When there is only slight swelling the pain will be minor, and as the swelling gets worse the pain will become more severe.
May be Tolerable in the Beginning
In the beginning it may be a minor ache felt in your back exactly at the bottom edge of your ribs.
When the pain is more severe it may become sharp and stabbing, still felt at that same location.
Your Kidney is contained
within the Renal Capsule
Image thanks to Davidson AJ, via Wikimedia
As the Pain Grows Worse
As your pain gets more severe you may begin to notice a lump or some swelling in that same area at the bottom of your ribs. There may be tenderness and pain when you touch or press deeply in that area.
He may order an Ultrasound, Pyelogram, or CT Scan
Your doctor may order an ultrasound which uses sound waves to evaluate your kidney cancer symptoms. He may ask for an intravenous pyelogram that uses special dye that is injected into your vein and then followed with x-rays as it is filtered out by your kidneys. A CT scan is another way of using x-rays to get a closer look at the inside of your kidney.
In most cases when you are having these symptoms they will turn out to be something other than cancer. But, just because they are probably not cancer does not mean that you can ignore them.
All of these signs and symptoms are indications of a serious health problem.
When you see your doctor he will evaluate your symptoms while considering your risk factors and any other health problems you may have.
If he thinks your symptoms are related to your kidneys he may order blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working.
The bottom line here is that you must not ignore these symptoms.
There are tests that your doctor can order to determine exactly what is causing your symptoms.
Whether it turns out that you have kidney cancer symptoms or not; in all cases the earliest diagnosis leads to the earliest treatment and the best possible outcome.