While there is a correlation between kidney disease and kidney cancer, let me first make it clear that not everyone with kidney disease will end up with cancer. Those who have mild kidney disorders do not seem to be at particular risk of getting kidney cancer.
Renal cell cancer, or as it is also known, renal cell carcinoma, is the most common type of kidney cancer. It may show up in just one kidney or it may appear in both of them.
Kidney cancer is marked by abnormal cells that will continue to grow until they become a mass known as a tumor. The tumors will usually grow undetected at first.
As the tumors increase in size, they will crowd nearby organs, like the colon, liver or pancreas. The tumors will use up the nutrients needed by the organs in order to be able to function.
Tumors can also spread (metastasize) to the bones, the brain, the liver, the lungs and the lymph nodes. By the time the cancer has been discovered, it has often metastasized to other parts of the body.
Often it will be the discovery of blood in the urine that will be the catalyst for an individual to see a doctor. They may also have unexplained low back pain, a mass in the abdomen, rapid weight loss, fever, fatigue, and swelling legs and ankles.
Renal cell cancer is most commonly found in people between the ages of 40 and 70. African Americans are more likely to get it than Caucasians. Men are more likely to get it than women.
People with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and people who have received kidney transplants face a solid risk of cancer. And men with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may also be vulnerable, though for some reason women do not seem to be.
Men may be more prone due to inflammation that is associated with CKD, or it may also be due to a deficiency in Vitamin D which so often goes hand in hand with CKD.
Those with cystic kidney disease, and who have had long-term kidney dysfunction, are at risk. Renal cell cancer has also been associated with long-term dialysis. This may be because long-term dialysis can lead to kidney cysts, which may then lead to renal cell cancer.