Kidney Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Lineagotica Editorial Board, 10/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Often, kidney cancer is found when a person has an x-ray or ultrasound (see Diagnosis) for another reason. In its earliest stages, kidney cancer causes no pain. Therefore, symptoms of the disease usually appear when the tumor grows large and begins to affect nearby organs.

People with kidney cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with kidney cancer do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.

  • Blood in the urine

  • Pain or pressure in the side or back

  • A mass or lump in the side or back

  • Swelling of the ankles and legs

  • High blood pressure

  • Anemia, which is a low red blood cell count

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Fever that keeps coming back and is not from a cold, flu, or other infection

  • For men, a rapid development of a cluster of enlarged veins, known as a varicocele, around a testicle, particularly the right testicle, may indicate that a large kidney tumor may be present

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.