Diagnosed at 21

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I’m a 21F year old university student entering my third year. Yesterday I was told there is an 80% chance that the 3.1cm mass in my kidney is a malignant tumour.

In January, I had a cholesystectomy to remove my gallbladder due to gallstones. I was hopeful that my life would be normal and pain free again. Then, a few weeks post-op, I began experiencing stomach pain, fatigue and muscle aches. I went to the GP thinking I had PCS (post-cholecystectomy syndrome). They ordered a liver test, where my blood results came back high. I was then sent to have an ultrasound.

During the ultrasound, the nurse looked at my left kidney and said “I don’t like the look of this kidney”. Not something anyone wants to hear. The next day I got a phone call from the GP fast tracking me to urology to see a consultant. He pointed to my MRI from January; they had missed the mass. They had been focused on my gallbladder, so much so that they missed the beginning of it. A CT scan was ordered. I was assured I was young. Kidney cancer at my age is incredibly rare. It’s probably a cyst due to the number of UTIs I’ve had this past year.

Yesterday, me, my family and my partner were told that the urologists had sat down and discussed my results. They concluded they weren’t 100% sure, but most agreed that it is most likely cancer. No one prepares you for that. For the past 3 weeks since my CT, everyone told me that “it will be nothing”, “you’ll be okay”, just for it to be something, and not be okay. 

They’re going to try and partially remove my kidney, but because the tumour is so close to blood vessels, they don’t think it would be possible. They might have to remove my whole kidney. I’m also having a chest CT next week to see if it has spread to my lungs. If it has, I will start immunotherapy.

I feel numb. I spent the waiting period worrying, and now I’m in a state of acceptance. I’ve always been told i’m resilient, so if the universe throws cancer at me, so be it!

  • I know it is a life changing experience but I am sure you will be fine. Kidneys transplant is very common xx

    Just wait for your biopsy results

  • They won’t perform a biopsy as they’re worried about the cancer cells spreading:/

  • I'm so sorry that you're going through this, especially at such a young age and when you've got university to cope with. 

    I'm not sure if you've read any of my posts but I've recently been diagnosed with stage 3 (T3a N0 M0) kidney cancer a few weeks after my 30th birthday. I don't know when my surgery is yet or whether I'll need immunotherapy or anything but I have another appointment next Friday, so I'm hopeful I'll know more then.

    The good thing is that your 'mass' is relatively small and hopefully that means that it'll be a pretty easy fix and it won't have gone anywhere else.

    Waiting for the appointments, tests and results has by far been the worst part of all of this, for me personally. The days feel like months and time just seems to drag on and everything takes forever. Try to distract yourself with as much pleasant, fun stuff as possible!

    I hope you've got a good support system around you and I'm glad all of your appointments seem to be happening quickly. I will remain hopeful that there's still a chance that your kidney blip might be something other than cancer.

    Please do keep us all updated, as I'm sure we'll all be thinking of you.


  • This is a lovely comment, thank you. I have seen some of your posts and i’m hoping your appoint goes well.

    Waiting is definitely the worst part. Sitting in the anxiety knowing you can’t do anything is awful. I’m glad i’m not the only one who feels this way. 

    Keep us updated! And thank you again for your comment.

    Chloe x

  • Hi Chloe, sorry to hear you’re going through this. Im a 54 year old man. Back in March I had some cancer removed from my bladder, fast forward 3 months and the renal team phoned me yesterday to say I have a 1.6cm renal mass on my right kidney. It’s too small to do a biopsy on. So I have to have another ct scan in September to see if it’s grown or what it is.  So waiting for that plus news on my bladder is very frustrating. There are loads of fantastic people on here for advice, support ect. I hope it all goes well for you..


  • Dear Cinnamon. I think that a diagnosis of kidney cancer at any age is worrying. My kidney mass was found incidentally and I have had a partial nephrectomy this week. There is a lot of information on this website and I have found the members very supportive. I hope that whatever the urologists decide will be the best decision for you.

  • Hi, my heart goes out to you - it's a lot to process at any age but you are so young and it sounds like you've already had a lot to deal with health-wise. Many people on here have had a full nephrectomy - whole kidney removal - and we are doing fine, as you can with one kidney, so you don't need to worry about that part at least. If they are going to remove rather than do a biopsy, they will examine the tumour to see what grade it is, i.e. how aggressive and that will determine if they recommend immunotherapy after the nephrectomy. Hopefully your chest CT is clear - it's routine btw to do that. It is a shock when you are told but try to be optimistic because that will help you get on with your life. Best of luck with everything and I hope things get moving quickly for you.