CANCER describes what happens when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way in the body. There are more than 200 different types of cancer so the type of symptoms you experience are determined by where the cancer begins in the body and where it has spread to. The effectiveness of treatment will also depend greatly on how early the cancer is discovered so recognising the early warning signs is imperative.
The health body adds: “You may have days or weeks when you don’t have a temperature and then the fever starts again.”
What the other symptoms associated with kidney cancer?
Other symptoms include:
- Blood in your urine – you may notice your urine 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)
When to see a GP
Although it’s unlikely you have cancer, it’s important to get your symptoms checked out, advises the NHS.
The GP will ask about your symptoms and may test a sample of your urine to see if it contains blood or an infection, notes the health body.
“If necessary, they may refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests to find out what the problem is,” it adds.
Am I at risk?
The exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown, but certain factors may increase your chances of getting it.
As Cancer Research UK reports, being overweight or very overweight (obese) increases the risk of getting kidney cancer, causing around a quarter of kidney cancers.
What constitutes obesity?
“Obese means that your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. More roughly, this means that your weight is at least 25 percent higher than the top of the healthy range for your height. Your BMI is worked out by comparing your height and weight,” explains Cancer Research UK.
How does obesity influence your risk of developing kidney cancer?
“Being overweight causes changes in hormones in the body, particularly for women. It could be this change in the body’s hormone balance that increases the risk of kidney cancer,” suggests the charity.
Other risk factors include:
- Obesity – a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (use the healthy weight calculator to find your BMI)
- Smoking – the more you smoke, the greater the risk
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- 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
What’s my outlook if I have it?
The outlook for kidney cancer largely depends on how big the tumour is and how far it has spread by the time it’s diagnosed.
The NHS explains: “If the cancer is still small and has not spread beyond the kidney, surgery can often cure it. Some small, slow growing cancers may not need treatment at first.”
A cure is not usually possible if the cancer has spread, however, although treatment can sometimes help keep it under control, adds the health body.