Kidney cancer is also known as renal cancer and is one of the most common cancer types in the UK.
It usually affects those in their 60s or 70s, and is rare in people under 50.
Kidney cancer is within the top 14 cancers impacting the North West of England.
There are a few types of kidney cancer but the most common is renal cell carcinoma. More than 80% of kidney cancers are renal cell cancer.
Often, there are no obvious signs or symptoms at first, meaning kidney cancer may be found during tests for other conditions.
If there are symptoms, they can include:
- Blood in your urine– it may be darker than usual or have a reddish colour
- Persistent pain in your lower back or side, just below the ribs
- A lump or swelling in your side (but kidney cancer is often too small to feel)
The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown, however there are some factors that can increase your chance of developing it, which include:
- Obesity (categorised as a BMI over 30)
- Smoking – the more you smoke, the greater the risk
- High blood pressure
- Family history of kidney cancer
- Some other inherited genetic conditions
- Long-term dialysis
Staying healthy by keeping your BMI in the preferred range for your height and age, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and avoiding smoking are the best ways you can reduce your chances of getting kidney cancer.
Always contact your GP if you have symptoms of any type of cancer, it’s important to get checked out, even if it’s just to ease your worries.
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and may test a sample of your urine to see if it contains blood or an infection. If necessary, they can refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests. Some of the tests used to diagnose kidney cancer include an ultrasound scan, a CT scan of the urinary system, a cystoscopy to look inside the bladder or a kidney biopsy.
Treatment for kidney cancer is dependent on the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
- Surgery to remove part or all of the infected kidney (this is the most common treatment)
- Cryotherapy or radiofrequency ablation (cancerous cells are destroyed through freezing or heating)
- Biological therapies (medicine to help stop the cancer growing or spreading further)
- Embolisation (cutting off the blood supply to the cancer)
- Radiotherapy (high-energy radiation that targets the cancer cells)
If you have any concerns about the signs and symptoms of kidney cancer, please visit your GP.