Kidney cancer often found by accident

By Mayo Clinic staff

March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month and March 10 is World Kidney Day, which means it's time to talk about kidney cancer.

You probably don't give your kidneys much thought, but the bean-shaped organs are essential to your overall health. They remove waste from your blood and regulate a healthy balance between water, sodium and minerals in your bloodstream.

"Kidneys filter intoxicants, drugs and waste products out of your blood," says Dr. Scott Cheney, a Mayo Clinic urologic surgeon. "We would actually die within about a week without having good kidney function."

Poor kidney function could mean kidney cancer, but signs or symptoms are rare in its early stages. Patient are sometimes informed about kidney cancer tumors when they are discovered during CT scans or other imaging techniques for unrelated ailments.

In this "Mayo Clinic Q&A" podcast video, Dr. Cheney discusses different types of kidney cancers, how smoking can affect the kidneys and why treatment usually involves surgery:

A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Learn more about kidney cancer and find a kidney cancer clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.