Today is World Kidney Day. In this blog, cancer information nurse Richard runs through some of the risk factors of kidney cancer and what you can do to reduce your risk. He also lists the symptoms to be aware of, so you can get them checked sooner rather than later – when there is a better chance of successful treatment.

World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign that occurs every March and aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys.

Millions of people worldwide live with different types of kidney disease. Just over 12,500 new cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year. Numbers may be small when compared to other types of kidney disease, but it is the 8th most common cancer in the UK. And the number of people being diagnosed with kidney cancer is increasing. Over the last 10 years, the number of new cases every year in the UK has increased by nearly 50%. And even more important is the fact that as many as one third of kidney cancer cases could be preventable.

Kidney cancer risks

There are a number of different risk factors for kidney cancer. Some of them you can’t do anything about. For example, in the UK kidney cancer is more common in:

  • men
  • people as they get older – most people are over 60
  • people with a close relative who has had kidney cancer
  • people who have inherited a genetic risk.

The important risk factors to be aware of are those that you can help to reduce by making lifestyle changes. This includes:

  • smoking – the more you smoke the greater the risk
  • being overweight.

As many as 34% of kidney cancer cases in the UK could be preventable. Stopping smoking and eating healthily will really help to reduce your risk.

Symptoms to be aware of

Small kidney cancers do not usually cause any symptoms. They may be diagnosed by chance.

When a kidney cancer does cause symptoms, the most common symptom is:

  • blood in the urine (pee).

Other symptoms include:

  • a dull pain in your side
  • feeling very tired
  • losing weight for no reason
  • loss of appetite
  • night sweats or a high temperature.

Most people with these symptoms do not have kidney cancer. But if you have any symptoms, it is important to get them checked by your GP.

an images of a quote from our supporter Eileen

We have more information about kidney cancer that covers how it is diagnosed and treated, and ways of coping. You can also order a free copy of our booklet Understanding kidney cancer.

an image of our Understanding kidney cancer booklet


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

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