Symptoms & Signs

of Renal cell cancer

Many kidney cancers go undetected due to the lack of symptoms and are incidentally detected during the medical evaluation of an unrelated problem. Kidney cancers can cause symptoms by compressing, stretching or invading structures near or within the kidney. Symptoms caused by these processes include pain (in the flank, abdomen or back) and blood in the urine (small amounts may not be visible). If cancer spreads beyond the kidney, symptoms depend upon which organ is involved.

Sign & Symptoms of Renal Cell Cancer

  • Blood in the urine.
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • A pain in the side or back that doesn’t go away.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Fatigue and anemia.

Sometimes a renal cell cancer causes associated clinical or laboratory abnormalities called para-neoplastic syndromes. These syndromes are observed in approximately 30% of patients with kidney cancer and can occur in any stage. Clinical symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, sweats and high blood pressure.


Renal cell cancer begins when healthy cells acquire a genetic change (mutation) that causes them to turn into abnormal cells. Most renal cell cancers develop sporadically, which means for no known reason.

Risk factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Risk factors can influence the development of cancer but most do not directly cause cancer. Many individuals with risk factors will never develop cancer and others with no known risk factors will. Some cancers however are more likely to develop in individuals with certain risk factors that increase an individual’s chance of developing cancer. The following factors may raise a person’s risk for developing renal cancer.1,2

  • Smoking.
  • Overuse of certain pain medications for a long time.
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure.
  • A family history of renal cell cancer.
  • Hereditary conditions:
    • Von Hippel-Lindau disease.

Next: Diagnosis & Tests for Renal cell cancer


1 American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2017.

2 Golimbu M, Joshi P, Sperber A, et al.: Renal cell carcinoma: survival and prognostic factors. Urology 27 (4): 291-301, 1986.