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Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are a pair of organs on either side of the spine in the lower abdomen. Each kidney is about the size of a fist. Attached to the top of each kidney is an adrenal gland. A mass of fatty tissue and an outer layer of fibrous tissue enclose the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Risk Factors

Kidney cancer develops most often in people over 40, but no one knows the exact causes of this disease.

Studies have found the following risk factors for kidney cancer:

  • Smoking - Cigarette smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop kidney cancer. Cigar smoking also may increase the risk of this disease.
  • Obesity - People who are obese have an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • High blood pressure - High blood pressure increases the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Long-term dialysis - Dialysis is a treatment for people whose kidneys do not work well. It removes wastes from the blood.
  • Occupation - Some people have a higher risk of getting kidney cancer because they come in contact with certain chemicals or substances in their workplace.
  • Gender - Males are more likely than females to be diagnosed with kidney cancer. Each year in the United States, about 20,000 men and 12,000 women learn they have kidney cancer.


Common symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the side that does not go away
  • A lump or mass in the side or the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Feeling very tired or having a general feeling of poor health

Most often, these symptoms do not mean cancer. An infection, a cyst, or another problem also can cause the same symptoms. A person with any of these symptoms should see a doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. If you have these symptoms, it is important to be seen by the Miami Valley Hospital’s cancer team who has expertise in treating this specific disease.


Doctors and researchers are not sure what causes kidney cancer. They know it begins when some kidney cells mutate, grow, and divide rapidly. These accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can extend beyond the kidney. Some cells can break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.


Tests and procedures used to diagnose kidney cancer include:

  • Physical exam
  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound test
  • Biopsy

Treatment Options

Several different types of treatments are available for patients with kidney cancer. At Miami Valley Hospital, our team of urological cancer specialists will work with you to determine the correct course of treatment, which can include surgery (nephrectomy) or tumor ablation.

Patient Education

Learn more about kidney cancer so you can better understand your condition and your treatment options.

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