Renal Cell Cancer

Question:

The symptoms and signs of renal cell carcinoma can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms and signs at the onset of your disease? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Janice I, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 22

I had no signs of renal cell carcinoma at all. I went to the emergency room for pain in my right lower back. They did a CAT scan and found the tumor on my right kidney. They caught it early and removed a wedge of my kidney and tested the tissue surrounding it and it hasn't spread. I just recently noticed that my urine possibly has blood in it every time I urinate. I am worried if the cancer could be back.

Comment from: Cris, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 21

I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) stage 1. I got really lucky. My main symptom was dizziness. I did have an overall feeling that something was wrong. My doctor did a CBC on me and it came back with my white blood cells high but nothing else was abnormal. She put me on the antibiotic because I felt so bad or weird, I don't know how to explain it really. But I still felt strange so when I got a follow up with her I asked if she would do another CBC on me and double check everything was okay. She didn't think my white blood count would be high after the antibiotic but she agreed to do it. Wow, high white blood count, polycythemia, and a few other readings were off that weren't on the other CBC. I was willing to pay for the second test if it was normal; I just knew something was wrong. I was referred to an oncologist hematologist and he went ahead and ordered a CT scan and found it and called me that night. I had a partial nephrectomy. I got lucky and it was in the area they could operate successfully. I've never had a bladder infection or kidney infection, and my kidney function test was and still is normal. I hope this information helps someone. But everything I have read about RCC I never saw one of the symptoms as dizziness. That was my number one thing, and my friend saw me going white in the face and I was always really dizzy all the time. The other symptom that I had was left shoulder pain which was weird, of course some back pain too, but I thought something had happened to my left shoulder. I was also seeing an orthopedic doctor and he said that some people have severe sharp pains in the left shoulder like bursitis or worse. I never had blood in the urine.

Published: August 27

My kidney cancer was found purely by accident as a lot of times they are. I had an abscess tooth and went into the dentist. Seconds after getting into the dental chair, she found a lump on the inside of my cheek. She sent me directly to an oral surgeon who did a biopsy. It came back cancer of the salivary gland. I was sent to see a top ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor who did an upper CT scan and performed surgery on my mouth. After that surgery was performed, the CT scan came back with something on my kidney. Well, what it saw was the top of a 10 cm tumor on my kidney. I went in a year ago on Valentine's Day and had my left kidney removed. It was removed laparoscopically by a top transplant surgeon. I was very lucky. Both cancers turned out to be very rare forms, acinic cell carcinoma (which only 3% of the population gets), and chromophobe renal cancer, which only 3% of the population gets. Both have few statistics on them, but my prognosis is very good. Thank goodness I had a good dentist who checked my cheeks!

Comment from: howsschool, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: August 27

I was at work one Friday when at lunchtime I went to the bathroom and passed blood. I thought, “This can't be good.” I went back to my computer to look up what it could be and decided to drive myself to the emergency room. I told the doctors I had passed blood and by then I had a terrible pain on my right side. They gave me a CT scan and said I had a "renal mass." This was all within about three hours of passing blood. My regular doctor came by on Saturday and said he saw the scan and he thought it was kidney cancer. By then, a urologist had been contacted and he scheduled a radical nephrectomy for the following Thursday. It turned out to be kidney cancer - stage 3 - because of the size of the tumor he said. I was in the hospital a total of 11 days. That was about 15 months ago. Thank God for that urologist. I've told him he saved my life. I go for periodic X-rays, and a CT scan is scheduled for next week. I keep praying that none of that cancer ever comes back.

Comment from: serry, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 29

I was diagnosed with renal cancer on my left kidney after bleeding when i urinated. I went to the ER and they sent me home, but I came back and they found cancer after doing an MRI.

Comment from: SS, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 01

I didn't have any symptoms before I was diagnosed with RCC. I went for my routine physical that included blood work and urinalysis. They ran 6 urinalysis tests over the summer that showed traces of blood. Then I went for an ultrasound of the abdomen, a cystoscopy, and a CT scan. The final test confirmed their suspicions. In January I will undergo surgery for removal of the kidney. Funny thing is, I feel great!

Comment from: Boo, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

I am 53 and just had a cancerous tumor removed from my kidney approximately 1.8 cm at stage 1-2. I had absolutely no symptoms and was very fortunate they found it while I was having a CT scan on my gall bladder. There was no other follow up treatment and I am to go back for scans of some of my abdominal organs every 6 months. They tell me my prognosis is very good!!! It's time to start celebrating life and telling people at work when they want to start complaining ....take a number...."doctors orders" :)

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: February 16

My mother was diagnosed with renal cancer at age 63. At the time of diagnosis it was determined that she had the disease for around a year. In stage IV it was found that it had spread to the pelvic region, was 6 cm in size, inside the kidney. How she discovered was that it was protruding out of the kidney causing pain the low back area. She kept going to a chiropractor until he made things worse. All along she felt so tired and so blah. Her iron was low and she was cold all of the time. Doctors attributed that to her bad heart and the iron as just anemia. All along the tumor was taking blood and that is why surgery was not an option. She had it too many other spots I suppose and they said she would have needed more than 8 pints of blood in surgery. If you feel any of those symptoms of being tired and not yourself, get your doctor to look into things more deeply. If she had, she might have caught it in stage 1 or 2 with a higher chance of survival.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I first had renal cell cancer in 1995 and had my right kidney removed. It took 12 years to come back to my lungs found in a routine chest X-ray. Then the cancer had moved to my brain and I had them treated with Gamma Knife. In June 2009 the doctors also removed a small cancerous tumor on my scalp. I have a tried a clinical trail TK1258 but that caused my triglycerides to increase so currently on no medication....hoping for the best.

Comment from: Mdawe, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 04

I had blood in my urine and had an ultrasound done which showed a renal mass. A following CT scan showed that I have a tumor of my left kidney, so I had the kidney removed on 12.2.2009. So far, so good, but it's probably too early to tell. The doctor said my lymph bodes were clear. I will have a follow-up CT scan every six months for a while.

Comment from: Dolabill, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: November 30

I was 48 years old when my renal cell carcinoma was discovered. I had blood in urine, fatigue, severe lower back pain. Another unusual symptom that occurred about 6 months before discovery was tremors of the hands, and muscular neuropathy (severe pain on the outside of arm and leg). A CT scan confirmed the tumor, 14 centimeters. The tumor and kidney were removed. I am 18 months since the operation, and am doing very well.

Comment from: Nurse2010, 19-24 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 06

My aunt was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell cancer in August of 2008 at the age of 39. After having her kidney removed, she went through a series of treatments including radiation. Her team of doctors decided it would be in her best interest to try a new form of immunotherapy called Interleukin. Her doctors were quite optomistic and felt really good about her response to the treatment; while some CT scans showed several lesions that appeared on her lungs, they were confident that they had it under control. Soon the cancer foundo its way to her bones. She had surgery on both femurs to stablize fractures caused by lesions. This was then followed by more radiation and chemo pills. It then traveled to her spine and threatened to paralyze her if it grew too large. The lymph nodes in her neck also became infected and often became enlarged and hardened. Again, her doctors treated these lesions with more radiation and chemo. Up until about seven weeks ago, her doctors were still so optimistic about her treatment and told her she "had nothing to worry about." Seven weeks ago, I would have never though my aunt would be closing in on her last days. She was making progress with physical therapy and looked phenominal. Practically over night the masses in her neck swelled so severly that she could no longer eat and swallow. So quickly, everything spiraled out of control. My aunt fought like hell for a year and lived to see her 40th birthday. Three days later, on August 14th, she lost her battle with cancer.

Comment from: SueMc, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 25

My RCC was discovered by chance. I had been feeling tired and bloated. My mum had ovarian cancer approx 10 years earlier and the Doctor just thought he'd be cautious and do a C/T scan. Low and behold, there it was on my Right kidney! It was the size of an egg. That was 7 years ago and no recurrence to date!

Comment from: redone, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: February 10

My husband, 55, finally went to see his doctor after experiencing terrible pain in back on the lower right side, and in his left side. Also just felt very tired. He attributed it all to being a busy father and he owns a business, mows, plays golf etc. Two months later after CT revealed two masses, and a biopsy, he's been diagnosed with RCC. It's Stage IV because many distant lymph nodes are affected. The Dr. said that "there's obviously been something going on for 2 or 3 years". Looking back, he can remember when symptoms began but just thought he was old & out of shape. He has just started Round 2 of Stunt (growth inhibitor). Surgery not an option - too many lymph nodes involved. Hoping for some shrinkage, but Dr. has told him he can't be cured. Good luck to you.

Comment from: toothfairy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I am a 53 year old female. I had been experiencing back pain for 2-3 yrs and assumed it was job related (dental assisting for 35+ yrs). When I decided to seek treatment for my back the tumor was revealed on an MRI. An immediate CT was performed and a partial nephrectomy of my right kidney was performed. 3 weeks later I had an extensive spinal fusion. Not a fun summer!!! I saw my specialist today for my first 6 month CT follow-up and am so very thankful for a clean report.

Patient Comments & Reviews

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Medically reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Medical Oncology

REFERENCE:

"Clinical manifestations, evaluation, and staging of renal cell carcinoma"
UpToDate.com

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