Kidney cancer describes an abnormal growth of cells in the bean-shaped organs that are part of the urinary system. The symptoms are not confined to
Kidney cancer describes an abnormal growth of cells in the bean-shaped organs that are part of the urinary system. The symptoms are not confined to this area of the body, however. Additional symptoms may spring up if the cancer has spread to other areas. In many cases, there are no obvious symptoms of kidney cancer at first and it may only be found during tests for another condition or reason, notes the NHS.
One telltale sign you have this form of cancer can be seen in your testicles.
Swollen veins in testicles may signal kidney cancer, according to the Cancer Treatment Centres of America (CTCA).
This cluster of enlarged veins, called a varicocele, are typically observed in the right testicle, says the CTCA.
Other symptoms include:
- Blood in your pee – you may notice your pee is darker than usual or reddish in colour
- A persistent pain in your lower back or side, just below your ribs
- A lump or swelling in your side (although kidney cancer is often too small to feel)
- Extreme tiredness
- Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
- Persistent high blood pressure (hypertension)
- A high temperature
- Night sweats
- Swollen glands in your neck
- Bone pain
- Coughing up blood
READ MORE: Prostate cancer: How powerful is your urinary flow? It could be indicative of the disease
Am I at risk?
The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown, but some things can increase your chances of getting it.
According to Cancer Research UK, being overweight or very overweight (obese) increases the risk of getting kidney cancer.
This causes 24 out of every 100 kidney cancers or around a quarter of kidney cancers, says the charity.
Overweight means that your body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 39.9 and obese means that your BMI is 30 or higher.
BMI is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.
The link is not entirely clear but it may owe to the hormonal changes being overweight causes in the body, particularly for women, explains Cancer Research UK.
“It could be this change in the body’s hormone balance that increases the risk of kidney cancer,” says the charity.
Another condition linked to an unhealthy lifestyle that may raise your risk is high blood pressure.
Some research studies have also found a link between high blood pressure or high blood pressure medicines and kidney cancer.
Other risk factors include:
- Smoking – the more you smoke, the greater the risk
- Family history – you’re more likely to get kidney cancer if you have a close relative with it
- Some inherited genetic conditions
- Long-term dialysis – a treatment for chronic kidney disease where a machine does some of the jobs of the kidneys.
As the NHS points out, keeping to a healthy weight, a healthy blood pressure and not smoking is the best way to reduce your chances of getting kidney cancer.
“Around seven in 10 people live at least a year after diagnosis and around five in 10 live at least 10 years,” notes the health body.