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Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is one of the top ten most common cancers in both men and women; its average age of diagnosis is 64.

Kidney cancer is one of the top ten most common cancers in both men and women; its average age of diagnosis is 64.


Kidney cancer is more common in men than it is in women: men have a 1 in 48 chance of developing the disease, while women have a 1 in 83 chance1

The most common type of kidney cancer is known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC comprises of about 90% of all kidney cancer cases, and though it generally manifests as a singular tumor in one kidney, there can also be two or more tumors in a kidney or tumors in both kidneys concurrently 2

Common kidney cancer screening techniques include MRIs, ultrasounds, PET scans, and CT scans 3 PET and CT scans, however, expose you to potentially harmful radiation4 5 In addition, MRI has been shown to have higher specificity than CT in detecting kidney lesions6


Early on, kidney cancer rarely presents any symptoms, but larger iterations of the disease could. Possible signs could include7

  • Anemia
  • Blood in the urine
  • A mass on the side or lower back
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss
  • A relentless fever that isn’t caused by an infection
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Lower back pain localized to one side, not caused by an injury

These symptoms can also be related to other, benign conditions.

If you are having any of the above symptoms you need to talk to a doctor about the appropriate diagnostic work up. The Ezra scan is a screening test for asymptomatic individuals and it is not designed to diagnose existing or suspected cancers.


It is difficult for researchers to pinpoint precisely what causes kidney cancer, though they do know that kidney cancer originates in genetic changes, or mutations, found in the DNA of normal kidney cells. Sometimes, these mutations can occur in oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes, which are the genes in charge of when cells grow, divide, or die. Such mutations can at least in part be responsible for cancer and can be inherited from one’s parents or be picked up randomly during one’s life. Furthermore, some kidney cancer risk factors are known to sometimes cause changes specifically in kidney cell DNA8

Inherited genetic mutations are associated with a small percent of kidney cancers. Some mutations associated with an increased risk are9

  • VHL: this is a tumor suppressor gene that causes von Hippel-Lindau disease when mutated. 
  • FH: when mutated, this gene causes hereditary leiomyoma.
  • FLCN: when mutated, this gene leads to the development of Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome
  • SDHB/SDHD: when these tumor suppressor genes are mutated, it can lead to familial renal cancer.

Other risk factors that could increase one’s likelihood of developing kidney cancer include10

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Gender: kidney cancer is about twice as common in men than it is in women
  • Race: African Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Americans are slightly more likely to develop kidney cancer than caucasians
  • Certain medications, such as diuretics and phenacetin
  • High blood pressure
  • Exposure to substances such as organic solvents, cadmium, and certain herbicides


If you are at high risk of developing kidney cancer, your doctor may recommend you get regularly screened for it with imaging tests such as MRI, CT, or ultrasound11 

Generally, if you are presenting with signs of the disease, your doctor will begin by conducting a thorough physical exam, feeling your abdomen for an abnormal mass. If your doctor finds cause for concern, it’s likely they will recommend both lab and imaging tests. While lab tests cannot diagnose kidney cancer, they can reveal that there might be an initial problem, among other information12

Imaging tests can also be useful in detecting kidney cancer. The most common ones used include CT scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, and PET scans. As previously mentioned, however, CT and PET scans expose you to radiation that can be harmful13 14, and MRIs have been shown to be more effective in detecting and staging kidney cancer than CT scans. Unlike with most other types of cancer, biopsies are not frequently performed with kidney cancers, as imaging tests often provide specialists with the information they need to know15


If you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, your doctor will likely run additional imaging tests on your to stage your disease. Staging a cancer helps physicians come up with a treatment plan for it based on its severity. 

In America, physicians most commonly use the TNM system:

  • T is for tumor: how big is the tumor? Has it grown into any nearby areas?
  • N is for node: has the cancer spread to any nearby lymph nodes?
  • M is for metastasis: has the cancer metastasized to distant body parts?



The best treatment for kidney cancer depends on the nature of the disease and how far it has spread. Treatment options may include: ablation, radiation, active surveillance, surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy16

Please consult with a physician on treatment options as necessary.

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We offer multiple pricing plans to ensure everyone can benefit from the Ezra cancer screening solutions.

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