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Renal Cell Cancer (cont.)

Renal Cell Cancer Symptoms

In its early stages, renal cell cancer usually causes no noticeable symptoms. Symptoms may occur only when the cancer grows and begins to press on surrounding tissues or spread to other parts of the body. The symptoms vary considerably from person to person. Some people never develop any symptoms before the disease is discovered; the cancer is found when they undergo imaging tests, such as a CT scan, for another reason. In a study in the Journal of Urology, approximately 53% of people with localized renal cell carcinoma had no symptoms.

Symptoms of renal cell cancer may include the following:

  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • Pain in the flank (side or back above the waist) that will not go away
  • Noticeable mass (lump) in the flank
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fevers
  • Night sweats
  • Malaise (feeling "blah")
  • Anemia ("low blood" due to an abnormally low number of red blood cells)

Other symptoms may result from metastatic renal cell cancer in the bones, lungs, or elsewhere. If the disease attacks the bones, for example, it can cause bone pain, which is deep and achy.

Renal cell cancer can also cause a number of conditions called paraneoplastic syndromes. These are problems caused by the tumor when it releases cytokines (chemicals involved with the immune system) or hormones. Cytokines may or may not cause symptoms, and a person may unknowingly have one or more of the following symptoms.

  • High blood pressure
  • Hypercalcemia (high level of calcium in the blood)
  • Polycythemia ("high blood" due to an abnormally high number of red blood cells)
  • Liver disorders
  • Muscle weakness
  • Neuropathy (numbness, tingling, or burning pain in one or more areas)
  • Amyloidosis (abnormal protein deposition in the body)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/28/2014
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Renal Cell Cancer:

Renal Cell Cancer - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Renal Cell Carcinoma »

Renal cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 3% of adult malignancies and 90-95% of neoplasms arising from the kidney.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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