Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

A kidney mass, or tumor, is an abnormal growth in the kidney. 

One in four kidney masses are benign. Smaller masses are more likely to be benign, whereas larger masses are more likely to be cancerous. 

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Obesity, poor diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Being on kidney dialysis
  • Workplace exposure to chlorinated chemicals
  • Heredity, which accounts for about 4-6% of kidney cancer cases


Most kidney masses have no symptoms in the early stages. If there are symptoms, they will most likely be:

    • Hematuria (blood in urine)
    • Flank pain between the ribs and hips
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss not caused by dieting
    • Anemia (low red blood cell count)

Testing and Treatment

When a kidney tumor is suspected, your doctor will order an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI of the abdomen.

  • Partial nephrectomy removes only the tumor in the kidney along with some surrounding tissue in order to preserve as much normal kidney tissue as possible.
  • Radical nephrectomy involves removing the entire kidney and is done for larger tumors
  • Destroys the tumor without surgically removing it.