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Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine

Fact sheet
What are the kidneys?
What is kidney cancer?
How common is kidney cancer?
Who is at risk for getting kidney cancer?
How do you lower your risk of kidney cancer?
What is the screening test for kidney cancer?
What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
Where can I get more information?

What are the kidneys?
The kidneys are organs that are in the midsection of the body toward the back.  Most people have 2 kidneys.  The kidneys are very important because they filter the blood and make urine

What is kidney cancer?
Kidney cancer occurs when cells in the kidney grow out of control. A group of abnormal cells together can form a malignant (cancerous) tumor. The most common type of kidney cancer is called renal cell cancer.

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How common is kidney cancer?
Over 51,000 Americans are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. To compare this with other cancers, click here.

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Who is at risk of getting kidney cancer?
Anyone can get kidney cancer, but it usually strikes people over age 50, and risk goes up with age. People with a family history of kidney cancer also have a higher risk.

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How do you lower your risk of kidney cancer?
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid high blood pressure
Click here for a list of things that affect kidney cancer.

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What is the screening test?
There is no good screening test to find kidney cancer in its early stages. If you're concerned about kidney cancer, talk to a doctor about your risk.

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What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?
In its earliest stages, kidney cancer may have no symptoms. But as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
  • Blood in the urine
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent fevers
  • A pain in the side that won't go away
  • Anemia (low number of red blood cells) or high blood pressure
These symptoms may also be caused by something less serious. Only a doctor can know for sure. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to a doctor.

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For more information on kidney cancer, visit these web sites: Back to top