Skip to nav Skip to content

Kidney cancer starts in the kidneys, two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. The most common type is renal cell carcinoma, which forms in the kidneys’ tiny tubes (tubules). As the kidneys filter blood, the tubules return water and essential nutrients to the bloodstream and direct waste products into the urine.

Cases of kidney cancer are currently on the rise. Experts believe this trend may be partially due to the widespread use of computed tomography (CT) scans. This sophisticated imaging technology can sometimes reveal kidney cancer in a diagnostic test performed for an unrelated reason.

Kidney cancer warning signs 

Early-stage kidney cancer may not produce noticeable symptoms. For this reason, it is important to promptly discuss any unusual changes with a physician who can provide an accurate diagnosis. Early detection of kidney cancer can allow for a wider range of treatment options.

What does kidney cancer look like?

In some cases, bloody urine (hematuria) is the first sign that something might be amiss. The urine may range in color from light pink to dark red. Hematuria can have many causes unrelated to kidney cancer, such as a bladder infection or kidney stone. This underscores the importance of consulting with a physician right away.

What does kidney cancer feel like?

As kidney cancer advances, other symptoms may become apparent, such as:

  • Persistent pain in the side or back that is unrelated to an injury
  • A lump that can be felt in the flank between the ribs and hip
  • Night sweats and fever that are unrelated to infection
  • Overwhelming fatigue

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about kidney cancer signs and symptoms

The following FAQs-related articles provide additional information about the warning signs and symptoms of kidney cancer:

If you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, Moffitt can help. Request an appointment with one of our experts today.
Request an appointment

Benefit from world-class care at Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt’s highly acclaimed Genitourinary Oncology Program brings together a group of world-renowned experts in a wide variety of disciplines. If you have kidney cancer symptoms, our multispecialty team can provide an accurate diagnosis, and if necessary, suggest a treatment plan tailored to your specific condition, health history and lifestyle. We offer the latest treatment options for kidney cancer, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Additionally, our surgeons are skilled and experienced in utilizing cutting-edge surgical techniques and technologies, such as laparoscopy and robotic-assisted procedures, which can maximize the effectiveness—and minimize the invasiveness and recovery time—of surgery.

If you would like to have your kidney cancer symptoms evaluated by a specialist in the Genitourinary Oncology Program, you can request an appointment without a referral. Call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.

Medically reviewed by Philippe Spiess, MD, Wade Sexton, MD and Logan Zemp, MD


What Is Kidney Cancer? | Renal Cancer
Kidney Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment - Urology Care Foundation
Kidney Cancer | CDC