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Kidney Cancer and Nephrology: What You Need to Know

Cancer can be a scary topic, but for many families, it isn’t an unfamiliar one. That’s why Harbin Clinic believes in sharing clear, accurate information on cancer awareness throughout the year. As March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month, here’s a run-down on what kidney cancer looks like and who is prepared to care for kidney cancer patients in our community.

What is kidney cancer?

As the name suggests, kidney cancer impacts the kidneys. These organs are the body’s great regulators. They remove waste, secrete hormones, and balance body fluids. Kidneys are about the size of a fist and are located above the waist on both sides of the spine. All forms of kidney cancer are tumors that form in different tissue cells of the kidney. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC), and it can be found in 9 out of 10 kidney cancer patients.

Patients with kidney cancer often do not experience many symptoms in early stages. However, signs of kidney cancer can include a mass on one’s lower back, blood in the urine, weight loss not caused by diet, and extreme fatigue or loss of appetite.

What are the risk factors?

Kidney cancer has varying risk factors. It can be hereditary, meaning that if a parent or sibling has kidney cancer, you are at a higher risk. Other risk factors include being overweight, having high blood pressure, being on dialysis, smoking, or working a job that exposes you to asbestos, cadmium, and other chemicals.

How do I get checked for kidney cancer?

Patients with kidney cancer often do not experience many symptoms in early stages. However, signs of kidney cancer can include a mass on one’s lower back, blood in the urine, weight loss not caused by diet, and extreme fatigue or loss of appetite. If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor. Testing for kidney cancer is simple and can include a urine sample, blood test or imaging of the kidney.

If I need care, who will I see?

Nephrologists are doctors who specialize in all conditions affecting the kidneys, from electrolyte disturbance to systemic conditions to a cancer diagnosis. For patients facing kidney cancer, our nephrologists work in tandem with Harbin Clinic’s Medical Oncology team. Whether you are experiencing kidney cancer symptoms or you have suffered a kidney injury or disease, Harbin Clinic Nephrologists are ready to help you with treatment toward a full recovery.

Are you interested in kidney health or concerned you may be experiencing symptoms of kidney cancer? In Northwest Georgia, Harbin Clinic has 5 nephrology locations and a talented group of physicians and nurse practitioners. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor and discuss seeing a nephrologist. Or learn more about nephrology by visiting Harbin Clinic Nephrology.

Published March 15, 2022