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Kidney Cancer and Urology: 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.

What are the risk factors?

Kidney cancer has varying risk factors, with the main risk being tobacco use. Research shows that smoking tobacco doubles an individual’s risk of developing kidney cancer. Less prevalent risk factors include being overweight, having high blood pressure and being on dialysis.

How do I get checked?

Patients with kidney cancer often do not experience many symptoms in early stages. Hematuria, or blood in the urine, is the most common sign of kidney cancer and the main reason patients are checked. Less common symptoms include weight loss and extreme fatigue. Testing for kidney cancer is very simple and can include a urine test, blood test or imaging of the kidney.  

If I need care, who will I see?

Urologists are surgeons who diagnose and treat diseases of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, urethra, adrenal glands and ureters. Since kidney cancer does not respond to radiation or conventional chemotherapy, the disease is managed by our urologists with surgery alone. For patients facing kidney cancer, our urologists are ready to help you with treatment toward a full recovery.

Are you concerned you may be experiencing symptoms of kidney cancer? Make an appointment with your primary care doctor and discuss seeing a urologist.

Learn more by visiting Harbin Clinic Urology.

Content updated March 2023.

Published March 15, 2022

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