Kidney cancer symptoms
Most people with kidney cancer have no symptoms and many are diagnosed with the disease when they see a doctor for an unrelated reason.
If symptoms occur, they usually include:
- blood in the urine (haematuria) or a change in urine colour – it may look red, dark, rusty or brown
- pain in the lower back or side not caused by injury
- a lump in the side or abdomen (belly)
- constant tiredness
- unexplained weight loss
- fever (not caused by a cold or flu).
Cancer can affect the amount of hormones produced by the kidneys. If this affects blood production, it can lead to a low red blood cell count (anaemia), a high red blood cell count (polycythaemia) or high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia). Sometimes, these problems can cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, constipation, abdominal (belly) pain and depression.
The symptoms listed above can also occur with other illnesses, so they don’t necessarily mean you have kidney cancer – only testing can confirm a diagnosis. If you are concerned, make an appointment with your general practitioner (GP).
Kidney cancer can be a silent cancer until it is quite advanced, so I do feel thankful that it was discovered incidentally, when it was small and easier to treat.Read more of Chris’s story
Podcast for people affected by cancer
Dr Alarick Picardo, Urologist, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Heidi Castleden, Consumer; Donna Clifford, Urology Nurse Practitioner, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Mike Kingsley, Consumer; Prof Paul De Souza, Medical Oncologist and Professor of Medicine, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Luke O’Connor, Urology Nurse, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; A/Prof Shankar Siva, Radiation Oncologist and Cancer Council Victoria Colebatch Fellow, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Homi Zargar, Uro-Oncologist and Robotic Surgeon, Western Health and Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.