How do people find out they have kidney cancer?

Most kidney cancers do not cause symptoms; they are found incidentally during a scan, X-ray or ultrasound that was ordered for another problem. When kidney cancer does cause symptoms these can be nonspecific, that is, many of the symptoms that kidney cancer might cause can be mistakenly attributed to other causes, like a urine infection or a muscle twinge.

Most kidney cancer does not cause pain until advanced stages when it has started to spread. Many people with kidney cancer are not aware they have a tumour until they have a test for another health problem.

Always talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Blood or changes in urine colour to dark, rusty or brown in the urine (haematuria)

  • Lower back, abdominal or flank pain which is not linked to an injury
  • Abdominal pain (stomach area)
  • Weight loss
  • Newly developed high blood pressure
  • Constant tiredness
  • Fever or night sweats which are not linked with any other conditions

All of these symptoms can also be caused by other diseases. If you have any of these symptoms it is important to see your doctor so you can find out what’s causing them.

Kidney cancer is most often detected by chance, but if you have some of the symptoms listed above, speak with your doctor. As with all cancers, early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment and long-term outcomes. Your doctor may use different approaches, tests and investigations to diagnose kidney cancer, depending on the symptoms you display.