March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

February 20,2023 |
Dad watching his daughter eat a sandwich.

March is National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month, an annual event that aims to raise awareness about kidney cancer, its causes, and the importance of early detection and treatment. Although most people affected by kidney cancer are older, it’s expected that in 2023 alone, 81,800 new diagnoses will be made and roughly 14,890 cases will be fatal. It’s about twice as common in men than women, and very rare for individuals younger than 45 to be diagnosed. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Regardless of your age, being aware of the signs, your risk factors, and treatment options is important for your longevity. Therefore, this month, spend some time learning about this condition and educating your loved ones, especially if they’re older. To help, consider the following information alongside some ideas on how to participate in Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. 


Understanding Kidney Cancer

Your kidneys are your body’s life-sustaining purification system. They’re bean-shaped organs that filter out toxic substances, excess sodium, acid, excess water, and more. This forms the waste product of urine, which is led out of your body through your bladder and urethra. Kidneys help your body maintain a state of homeostasis, which allows for optimal functioning from head to toe. Although this system can malfunction every now and again—through kidney stones or infection—it’s necessary for our bodies to function.

Kidney cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow uncontrollably in either one or both kidneys. This results in the formation of a tumor, which may or may not present immediate symptoms. It’s a serious and often life-threatening disease that affects thousands of people each year. In fact, kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers for both men and women. When left untreated, the cancer can metastasize to surrounding organs and lymph nodes.

Causes and Risk Factors of Kidney Cancer

Unfortunately, like many cancers, the exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown. However, there are several risk factors that can increase a person's chances of developing the disease. Some of the biggest risk factors include smoking, obesity, and family history. This is one reason it’s so important to understand your family health history. Another major risk factor is age. Most individuals who are diagnosed with kidney cancer are above the age of 45, but the risk continues to increase as you get older. High blood pressure and treatment of chronic kidney failure can also increase your risk.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Cancer 

To make sure you’re taking a proactive approach to your health, see your doctor and urologist regularly and discuss any new signs or symptoms as soon as they develop. If you smoke, try to take steps to quit as doing so may save your life. Maintaining a healthy weight is also beneficial in reducing your risk of kidney cancer and several other chronic conditions. If you’re at high-risk, you may want to consider adopting a diet targeted towards kidney health.

Never ignore any signs of pain, hematuria, or even changes in your bathroom habits. Although some symptoms may seem minor or simply a side effect of aging, it’s always better to be safe. Doing so can help reduce your risk of late-stage kidney cancer, thus increasing your chance of remission and extending your longevity. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how often you should be scheduling regular appointments and what to do in case of emergency symptoms.

Kidney Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Another way to make sure that you’re being proactive is to learn the signs and symptoms of kidney cancer. Although many of these are similar to other conditions or diseases, seeking clarification from your doctor can help you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Some of the symptoms of kidney cancer include the following:

  • Hematuria (blood in urine)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent pain in your back
  • Persistent pain in your side
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Tiredness

See your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these signs or symptoms.


Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Kidney Cancer

If your doctor suspects that you may have kidney cancer, you’ll likely undergo a few different tests and procedures. Most of these are simple blood, urine, and imaging tests to gain a more comprehensive understanding of your kidney health and functioning. These tests can also help rule out less serious conditions. However, your doctor may also suggest undergoing a kidney biopsy in order to expedite the results and get a confirmed diagnosis. This procedure is fairly straight forward and carried out after a numbing agent is applied to reduce discomfort. After the sample is collected, it’s brought to a lab for further inspection.

The Importance of Early Detection

There are several different stages of kidney cancer ranging from I to IV. In stage I, the cancer is confined within the cells of the kidney, making treatment much more straightforward. If the cancer is only affecting one of the kidneys, your doctor may recommend removing the affected part or the whole kidney.

However, each stage of kidney cancer becomes more difficult to treat. At stage IV, cancer cells have likely spread to other areas of the body or the lymph nodes. This requires a more aggressive treatment approach and tends to have a lower success rate. Your doctor will likely use a mixture of surgery, immunotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, or even try a clinical trial.

For the best outcome, early detection is absolutely essential. See your doctor regularly, undergo your yearly exams, and don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment if you notice anything strange.


Coping with Kidney Cancer

Being diagnosed with kidney cancer can be overwhelming and scary, but it’s important to try and stay positive. To help, try to find a good support system. It's also important to stay informed about the disease and treatment options. This can help reduce anxiety and give a sense of control over the situation. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and a balanced diet can help with physical and emotional well-being. Finally, communicate openly with your doctor and seek professional help if needed to manage any anxiety or depression.


Getting Involved with Kidney Cancer Awareness

Don’t forget to get involved with Kidney Cancer Awareness Month all March long. To help give you some ideas for ways to participate, consider the following:


1. Wear Orange

The designated color of Kidney Cancer Awareness is orange, so you can show your support by wearing orange clothes or an orange cancer ribbon all month long. If you’re asked about the ribbon, take some time to share what you’ve learned about kidney cancer.


2. Educate Yourself

Although it can be scary to learn about potential diseases as you age, doing so is the best way to help ensure that you catch things early. Spend some time learning about kidney cancer, your risk factors, or diving into your family health history.


3. Spread the Word

Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your coworkers. The point of Kidney Cancer Awareness Month is to bring awareness to this disease, so the more you talk about it, the better.


4. Donate

You can donate to a charity or research fund dedicated to kidney cancer. Some organizations include the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, and the National Kidney Foundation.  


5. Find a Local Event

If you want to get more hands-on, consider talking to your local chamber of commerce about hosting an event. This could be anything from a short marathon to a small community gathering or anything in between. This is also a great way to help spread the word and encourage healthy habits in your community.


This year, participate in Kidney Cancer Awareness month by educating a loved one, scheduling your yearly urology exam, or developing a new healthy lifestyle habit. Staying proactive is one of the best ways to help you maintain your health and catch any signs of problems early on. Byram Healthcare is proud to participate in Kidney Cancer Awareness Month by continuing to provide education and support as needed. If you need any urologic supplies or additional educational resources, visit our educational support page or our product selection guide. Byram Healthcare is proud to offer full-service urologic care with the high-quality urologic supplies that you need. Plus, all orders can be discreetly delivered to your home, at any time of the day.

Byram Healthcare is a member of the National Association for Continence’s Trusted Partners Program, whose mission is to provide quality continence care through education, collaboration and advocacy. We continue to build partnerships in the clinical community to ensure we focus on what’s best for the patient.