March is National Kidney Month. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist. They are located to the right and left of your backbone and attached to the upper back wall of your abdomen. The kidneys’ purpose is to filter blood and produce urine.
At Arkansas Urology, one of the conditions we see and treat is kidney cancer. According to the American Cancer Society about 62,700 new cases of kidney cancer will occur in 2016. It’s more common in men than women.
For anyone the risk for kidney cancer and cancer in general increases as you age. A family history of kidney cancer definitely affects your risk. A parent having the cancer will increase it, but the risk is highest if your brother or sister has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. It’s not entirely clear if this is due to genetics or having the same environment growing up. In fact, many studies support the environment theory and have suggested that your workplace can contribute to your risk if you are exposed repeatedly to certain substances.
With kidney cancer, certain inherited conditions will cause you to have a much higher risk like von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma and Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome.
Many risk factors such as smoking and obesity apply to various types of cancers and not just kidney. High blood pressure will also put you at an increased risk.
Pay attention to any warning signs or symptoms you experience, like blood in your urine, back pain, mass on the side or lower back and unexplained weight loss. Write them down and make an appointment with your physician soon. Be sure to mention that you do have a family history of kidney cancer. Unfortunately, many times kidney cancer will not present symptoms in early stages. Be sure that you have regular checkups with your physician.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, give us a call today at 1-877-321-8452.