Kidney cancer involves the aggressive and uncontrollable growth of healthy cells in one or both kidneys. Eventually, such malignant cells grow rapidly to form lumps known as tumors in various areas in and around an individual’s kidneys. Like other forms of cancer, kidney cancer can be dealt with most effectively in its initial stages. During these stages, people with this condition experience specific telltale symptoms that are typical of kidney cancer. Some such symptoms include:
A low red blood cell count is a clear indication of any form of cancer, medically known as anemia. This symptom is especially apparent when it comes to kidney cancer. This happens because kidneys produce a protein called erythropoietin, which is responsible for optimizing the production of red blood cells in the body. Unfortunately, the presence of a tumor in the kidneys disrupts the production of this protein, leading to a drastic decrease in red blood cell count in the body.
On the other hand, in some cases, early-stage kidney cancer can cause an overabundance of red blood cells. This happens when the cancer causes the kidneys to overproduce erythropoietin instead of inhibiting its production.
Blood in urine
People with kidney cancer show signs of hematuria, a condition characterized by the presence of blood in one’s urine. While running diagnostic tests for kidney cancer, one of the clearest indicators healthcare professionals look for in people is any abnormalities in the color of their urine. In some cases, the blood will not be visible to the naked eye, and doctors will need to use microscopic analysis to find traces of blood in a person’s urine.
There is perhaps no clearer warning sign of kidney cancer than the presence of blood in a person’s urine. Therefore, if an individual experiences it, they must immediately visit their nearest healthcare center for a quick check-up and scan.
Perpetual high blood pressure
Persistent high blood pressure is a common symptom among many types of cancers. This condition is known as hypertension, caused by the high pressure and tension it creates on an individual’s blood vessels. Kidney cancer often causes hypertension due to tumors present in and around the adrenal glands, which negatively affect their function. As the adrenal glands play an important role in regulating blood pressure, the growth and spread of tumors in the kidneys can cause hypertension in individuals.
High blood pressure and low red blood cell count as a combination are clear signs of kidney cancer in individuals. Therefore, when both these symptoms are felt, individuals may need to visit their local cancer screening center for a quick scan.
Swelling in the feet and ankles
The kidneys are the chief regulators of fluids within the body. Kidney cancer causes issues with the regulation of fluids around a person’s feet and ankles. As a result, the feet and ankles become swollen and filled with fluid.
Loss of appetite
When the growth of a tumor in the kidneys affects certain critical aspects of a person’s body, such as blood pressure, amount of red blood cells, and fluid levels in various parts of the body, their metabolism inevitably suffers, too. Eventually, people stop feeling sensations of hunger and thirst to a great degree. This loss of appetite can persist even after undergoing cancer treatment, which can further cause more weakness and fatigue in the body due to the progressively reduced intake of nutrients.
Weakness and fatigue
As implied above, kidney cancer can weaken blood flow and blood pressure in the body, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach various parts of the body. As oxygen and nutrients are critical for the functioning, growth, and sustenance of the various organs within the body, their reduced supply leads to weakness and fatigue.
So, when critical organs like the brain and lungs do not get the vital nutrients needed to run properly, people with kidney cancer will feel exhausted even after doing simple tasks like climbing a flight of stairs or walking a few paces.
Fever and night sweats
In many people, kidney cancer directly causes fever and night sweats. These symptoms are common to a host of other cancers, and also several other diseases. Essentially, when a person’s immune system detects a malignancy, it reacts by sending the necessary fighter white blood cells to counter the threat. This results in the sweat glands getting activated more frequently and during the night. Additionally, the body temperature goes up dramatically. As a result of that, one of the earliest indicators of kidney cancer is fever and night sweats.
Pain in the back or sides
The kidneys are located in a shared region that encompasses the back and two sides of an individual in the lower abdomen. Therefore, the presence and growing emergence of a tumor in the kidney results in aches in the lower back or side of a person’s body. Several patients experience pain on one side of their back, right below the rib cage.
The severity of the pain varies from one person to another. In some individuals, the pain can be dull and nagging, while in others, it tends to be more sharp and excruciating in nature. Contacting one’s healthcare provider is critical to control the pain when one experiences it on a regular basis.
Muscle mass loss
A lack of appetite leads people to eat progressively lesser and lesser amounts of food as their cancer advances. Unsurprisingly, this causes their muscle mass amount to drop drastically with time. This loss of mass is accompanied by frequent infections and fevers due to a weakened, exposed immune system.
Additionally, the cancerous kidney cells compete with healthy cells to take away their nutrition, leaving people in a weaker state than before.