National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, is one of the most common cancers in the United States, with more than 76,000 new diagnoses and 13,780 deaths in 2021, according to the National Institute of Health.

This March, in honor of National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month, communities come together to bring awareness to kidney cancer and encourage individuals to show support for those affected.

The kidneys are about the size of a fist and resemble the shape of a kidney bean, located above the waist on either side of the spine. The main functions of the kidneys, according to the National Kidney Foundation, are to:

  • remove drug and waste products from the body.
  • balance the body's fluids.
  • release hormones that regulate blood pressure.
  • produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.

In the early stages, most people don’t have signs or symptoms. Kidney cancer is usually detected by chance during medical evaluations of unrelated issues. However, as the tumor grows, some symptoms may include blood in the urine, pain in the lower back, a lump in the lower back or side of the waist or unexplained weight loss, night sweats, fever, or fatigue

Although many cases tend to be in those over the age of 45 and occur more often in men than women, kidney cancer can affect anyone.

“Early detection leads to a very high rate of cure. Once detected, we can map out the best possible treatment plan to move forward with. Kidney cancer is treated a little differently than other cancers and doesn’t usually involve chemotherapy,” says Dr. Justin Asquith, Aspirus Health medical oncologist. “We ensure each patient is educated in their options and concerns voiced when it comes to making any sort of decision about their future health care.”

Some risk factors for kidney cancer may include family history, long-term exposure to certain harmful chemicals, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, certain medications, and a history of kidney disease.

For information about Aspirus cancer care, visit Learn more about kidney cancer from the Kidney Cancer Association.