The symptoms of kidney cancer

The symptoms of kidney cancer appear late in affected patients. In general, the symptoms are not particularly severe and, moreover, the clinical signs are not symptomatic only of kidney cancer. For these reasons, kidney cancer is difficult to diagnose.


In the absence of easily perceptible symptoms, kidney cancer is often diagnosed by chance. An ultrasound or X-ray for another reason is often the origin of the diagnosis of this form of cancer. An ultrasound should thus always include a systematic verification of the state of the kidneys. 


Once the tumour in the kidney has developed, symptoms appear. However, it should be remembered that the symptoms are not specific to kidney cancer: they resemble the symptoms of other conditions or diseases. The clinical signs therefore do not necessarily encourage the patient to consult a doctor.

Visible symptoms

The most perceptible symptom is the presence of blood in the urine (haematuria). It is often the fact of seeing blood in the urine that pushes the patient to consult a doctor. In one case of kidney cancer in two, haematuria is the clinical sign that is the origin of the diagnosis.
The other visible symptoms of kidney cancer are:
- swollen legs and ankles (oedema)
- a swollen vein (varicocele) around one of the testicles or in the scrotum (of sudden onset)
- weight loss
- pale face
- intense hair growth in women with kidney cancer

Sensitive symptoms

Kidney cancer provokes other symptoms, known as “sensitive” symptoms because they are felt psychologically by the patient:
- back ache and/or pain in the side
- sensitivity to cold
- failing vision

For further information about kidney cancer: Healthline

Last updated: 29/04/2017

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