Most people who are diagnosed with kidney cancer do not have any symptoms. Some people might be having a test for other things and a scan shows that they have a kidney cancer. This is called an incidental diagnosis. Their cancer has been found by chance when investigating something else.

When someone does have symptoms, these might include:

  • blood in the urine
  • a lump or mass in the kidney area

Blood in the urine

Blood in the urine (called haematuria) is the most common symptom of kidney cancer. 

It might be caused by an infection, enlargement of the prostate or kidney stones. Always see your GP if you notice any blood in your urine.

The blood does not have to be there all the time. It can come and go. Sometimes, the blood cannot be seen by the naked eye but can be picked up by a simple urine test.

As the bleeding can come and go, you or your doctor may think that the problem has gone away. This can mean that an early, treatable cancer in the kidney or bladder is allowed to grow to a stage where it may be more difficult to treat.

A lump or mass in the kidney area

If you feel a lump or swelling in the area of your kidneys, go straight to your doctor.

Most kidney cancers are too small for you or a doctor to feel. But your doctor can arrange an ultrasound scan to check for cancer.

Diagram showing the urinary system in women

Other, more vague symptoms

Some people have other symptoms which can be vague. These are:
  • weight loss
  • a high temperature and very heavy sweating
  • a pain in your back on one side (below the ribs) that won't go away
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • a general feeling of poor health

A high temperature and sweats can be caused by an infection. Your doctor may want to rule this out first.

High blood pressure and having fewer red blood cells than normal (anaemia) can also be symptoms of kidney cancer. These symptoms are related to the hormones that the kidneys produce.

These symptoms can be caused by many other conditions. Most people who have them will not have cancer. But if you have any of these symptoms, go to your doctor for a check up. If it is cancer, it will be easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early.

When to see your doctor

You should see your doctor if you have:

  • blood in your urine
  • a lump or mass in your kidney area
  • any other symptoms of kidney cancer that don't go away

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer but it's important to get them checked by a doctor.