AUA Summit - Kidney Cancer Basics

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Posted on: 23 Jul 2021


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Our kidneys have many purposes, but their main function is to filter our blood, balance fluids, maintain electrolyte levels, remove waste, make hormones that help keep our blood pressure stable, make red blood cells and keep our bones strong. Pretty neat, right? The downfall is the kidneys, like other organs, can sometimes develop masses (growths or tumors) that are either cancerous or non-cancerous.  Most kidney masses are small and localized, meaning the tumor has not spread from where it first started.

Kidney cancer is very common and, while it affects mostly men and the elderly, it is helpful for all to know the basics. The earlier kidney cancer is found, the better chances of survival. There is no known cause for how a kidney mass develops but there are a number of things that can increase your risk of kidney masses such as smoking, high blood pressure and a poor diet, to name a few.

Most kidney masses have no symptoms in the early stages. Some common symptoms, if present, are blood in the urine, low back pain on one side and loss of appetite. If you have any symptoms or if you have a family history of kidney cancer, make an appointment with your doctor. There are no routine tests to find kidney masses, but there are other tests that can help your doctor learn more about your kidneys. If your doctor thinks you may have kidney problems, they may send you to a urologist to do more testing.

There are many treatment options which will be talked about between you and your doctor based on your diagnosis. The main goal is to cure you of the cancer and protect kidney function where possible.

The below resources can be used to help you learn more basic information about kidney cancer.

Kidney Cancer: What You Should Know Fact Sheet
Kidney Cancer: Treatment Fact Sheet
Kidney Cancer Podcast
Kidney Cancer Video

For more detailed, in-depth information about kidney cancer, view the below resources.

What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney Cancer Patient Guide


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