Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They're located behind your abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of your spine. Renal Cell Carcinoma, is the most common form of kidney cancer and usually develops as a mass in the urine producing portion of the kidney. Approximately 32,000 people are diagnosed with the disease annually and kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women.
Kidney Cancer Risks
As with many types of cancer, smoking is a significant risk factor in developing kidney cancer. Other factors that increases your risk includes:
- Older age
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- Family history of kidney cancer
- End stage renal disease and hemodialysis
- Genetic disorders including von Hippel-Lindau disease (vHL)
It is common that for many patients with kidney cancer, many are asymptomatic. Often, kidney cancer is found when a person has an x-ray or ultrasound for another reason. In its earliest stages, kidney cancer causes no pain. However people with kidney cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal mass
- Pain or pressure in the side and/or back
Most kidney cancer cases are confirmed by using what is known as cross sectional imaging. These images are taken by Computed Tomography (CT) Scans or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Sometimes a biopsy of the mass is used to confirm the diagnosis of the disease.