Kidney Cancer is the seventh most common cancer in the UK, and it is estimated that there are over 65,000 living with and beyond kidney cancer here in the UK. Over 13,500 people are newly diagnosed and more than 4,500 sadly lose their life to the disease each year. Kidney Cancer UK’s Chief Executive Officer, Malcolm Packer, talks exclusively to Welding World
For over 20 years, Kidney Cancer UK has been providing support for kidney cancer patients, their families, and carers. We provide a comprehensive and highly informative website at www.kcuk.org.uk which is an important resource for everyone affected. We also provide a free support service in the form of a patient Support Line answered by our nurses and trained professionals, as well as a free 12-week counselling service with the option to continue, should the patient feel they need it. As well as these services we have produced a series of ‘Living with Kidney Cancer’ booklets; one on Diagnosis, on Symptoms & Recovery, on Surgery as well as booklets specifically for Carers and one on Diet that are updated on a regular basis. These booklets are an invaluable source of information and reassurance to patients, their families, and carers, helping them better understand their kidney cancer journey.
We support patients when they need it
We hold weekly Coffee Cake & Chat Zoom support groups for metastatic kidney cancer patients, for patients with localised kidney cancer and a special booklet specifically for carers. On top of the booklets, we hold regional face-to-face meetings. Our support out in the community is unparalleled in what we deliver for patients and how we support local NHS cancer centres.
Symptoms of kidney cancer
Kidney Cancer often has no symptoms and is frequently detected during tests for other medical conditions. More than half of adult kidney tumours are detected when using an ultrasound scan to investigate symptoms, such as: high blood pressure, muscle wasting and weight loss, high temperature or fever, disorders affecting the nerves and muscles, inflammation, anaemia, abnormal liver function tests, and high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia).
Some of the symptoms of kidney cancer can be vague and can be put down to other problems like low back pain, chronic urine infections, chronic fatigue or just being stressed or run down. But if you experience them together you should get checked.
Be aware of these symptoms
Blood in the urine: An important and common symptom that must be investigated is blood in the urine, which Doctors call haematuria. This may come and go and not everyone with kidney cancer will have haematuria. Sometimes you won’t be able to see it, so any change in the colour of your urine should be checked out. Urine tests can pick up miniscule levels of blood. It’s important to remember that most people with blood in their urine do not have kidney cancer which is why testing for blood in the urine isn’t a reliable screening test for kidney cancer. Blood in the urine is more likely a sign of an infection, kidney stones, prostate problems or sometimes bladder cancer. So, while it is unlikely to be a sign of cancer, you should see your GP for further tests to rule out cancer and other serious causes.
Pain in your side: Mass in the kidney area. Most kidney cancers are too small to feel, but if you feel a lump or mass in the area of your kidneys you should tell your doctor straight away.
Lower back pain or flank pain: Back pain is very common and itself isn’t always a sign of kidney cancer, but some people do report this and it’s always good to get it checked out by your GP. Flank pain is in your side between your ribs and hipbone (sometimes called the loin area). This can be down to lots of other reasons, but it’s advisable to tell your doctor if you have this.
Other less common symptoms: Sometimes abnormal red blood cell counts and high blood pressure (hypertension) can be symptoms of kidney cancer. Some patients experience a condition called polycythaemia, or thickening of the blood, which can also be a symptom of kidney cancer. Symptoms of polycythaemia are a bad headache and redness of the skin. Other symptoms are more general and can also be caused by many other conditions, such as: weight loss, tiredness and running a persistent temperature and sweating heavily, especially at night.
In about a third of patients, kidney cancer will have already spread to other organs, such as the lungs, liver, brain and bones. These patients may experience symptoms of advanced kidney cancer, such as: a persistent cough, coughing up blood (or haemoptysis), abnormal liver function tests, headaches and visual disturbances, or bone pain. You must see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
The most common signs and symptoms of kidney cancer
- Blood in the urine, also called haematuria
- Persistent low back pain or pain in the side between the ribs and hipbone
- A lump or mass in the area of the kidneys
- Abnormal red blood cell counts
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Thickening of the blood (polycythaemia)
- Weight loss and/or loss of appetite
- Running a persistent temperature and sweating heavily, especially at night
If you notice any of these symptoms, they may well be nothing, but if they persist, please go see your doctor just to be sure.
How can you help Kidney Cancer UK?
You can help through a donation to support the free services provided, not only those who receive a diagnosis of kidney cancer but to those whose lives are affected by kidney cancer; the husbands, the wives, the partners, the sons and daughters and the extended family and friends We are here and we help them all, and we are only here because of the generous support of people like you.
Please visit www.kcuk.org.uk/donate and help us by making a single or regular donation today.