You have two kidneys located deep within your lower back, on either side of your spine. Their job is to remove waste products from the bloodstream, which are then expelled as urine. As with other cancers, the sooner a urologist diagnoses kidney cancer, the better. Early treatment can lead to a more favorable outcome.
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
In the absence of symptoms, kidney cancer can be tricky to detect during routine physical exams. Family care doctors can palpate certain areas of the body to check for abnormalities. Women can receive breast exams, for example, to check for possible tumors. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible with the kidneys because they are too far beneath the skin’s surface. Instead, the detection of kidney cancer relies on the patient’s observations and risk factors. Talk to your doctor if you notice some of these possible signs of kidney cancer:
- Bloody urine
- Unexplained low back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent fever not caused by an infection
- Unintentional weight loss
Screening Tests for Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer isn’t as common as skin or breast cancer, and there aren’t any routine screenings recommended for the average patient. Some people who are at a high risk of kidney cancer might have routine screening tests. Usually, a kidney cancer screening involves an imaging test, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan. Ultrasound is another possibility. Some urologists might also recommend periodic urine tests to check for the presence of blood.
Risk Factors of Kidney Cancer
These screening tests aren’t recommended for people at average risk of kidney cancer. Consider asking your doctor about your risk factors. Some inherited conditions, including von Hippel-Lindau disease, can raise the risk of this cancer. A family history of one of these inherited conditions, or of kidney cancer itself, may be cause for a referral to a genetic counselor.
Kidney cancer is one of the many diseases we treat here at Urology Associates, P.C. Our sophisticated cancer treatment options in Nashville are combined with our personalized, patient-centered approach. If you’ve been referred to a urology specialist, you can get in touch with our friendly office staff at 888-656-0667.