If you have any symptoms of kidney cancer, they need to be checked by your doctor.

What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is a cancer of the kidneys, the two bean-shaped organs inside your abdomen that sit on either side of your spine.

Like the rest of the body, the kidneys are made of tiny "building blocks" called cells.

Kidney cancer begins when these cells grow abnormally into a lump or tumour. 

Usually, only one kidney is affected, but cancer may grow in both kidneys in rare cases.

Cancer is a disease of the body's cells. It starts in our genes. Our bodies are constantly making new cells, a process controlled by certain genes. Cancers are caused by damage to these genes. As the damaged cells replicate a lump or tumour is formed. 

Tumours can be:

  • Benign - not cancerous. These do not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Malignant - cancerous


Kidney cancer symptoms

Signs and symptoms of kidney cancer may include:

  • blood in the pee (urine)
  • dark, rusty or brown coloured pee 
  • needing to pee more often
  • pain or a dull ache in the side or lower back
  • feeling tired and weak (fatigue)
  • weight loss for no reason
  • fever not caused by a cold or flu

Early-stage kidney cancer often has no symptoms.

Having these symptoms does not mean you have kidney cancer, but it is important to get any changes checked by your doctor.

Tips for talking to your doctor

  • make a list of what you are feeling and how often it happens, including as much detail as possible
  • think about your family/whānau history of cancer and tell your doctor
  • go back to your doctor if you don't feel better, even if tests show you don't have a problem - you can ask for a second opinion if you want one 
  • take a family/whānau member or friend with you to the appointment for support
Need someone to talk to?
8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday
0800 226 237 Information nurse

We know that going through cancer is tough and can raise many questions. You are not alone.

We have health professionals to answer your questions and provide the support you need. Get in touch

Last updated: December 22, 2022