What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

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Many people with kidney cancer do not have obvious symptoms, and about half of all kidney cancers are found by chance during a scan or test for another reason. Signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • The classic symptoms of kidney cancer are blood in the urine (haematuria), pain in your back or side, and a lump in your tummy or the side of your body between the hips and the ribs, but only 10% of people have all three of these symptoms together
  • Back pain or cramps, night sweats, raised temperature, high blood pressure, painful spasms in the area around the bladder, swollen arms or legs, and swelling of the veins around the testicles (varicocele) in men can also lead to a diagnosis of kidney cancer
  • More than 50% of renal tumours are now detected when being scanned for non-specific symptoms, such as general tummy pain, high blood pressure, feeling tired, weight loss, anaemia, or abnormal blood or urine tests
  • Unfortunately, 25-30% of people with kidney cancer have symptoms of cancer that has spread, such as; a persistent cough, frequent headaches, bone pain, or abnormal liver function tests.

These symptoms can be caused by many other conditions, apart from kidney cancer, so it is important to have them checked out by a doctor.


Cancer Research UK: Kidney cancer

Macmillan: Kidney cancer

NHS: Kidney cancer

European Association of Urology (EAU) Renal Cell Carcinoma guidelines: 5. Diagnostic evaluation

Further reading: Action Kidney Cancer Essential guide: Kidney cancer – Renal cell carcinoma (RCC)

Updated: October 2023                                                                                                                      Next review: October 2025

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