Lighting up the library for Kidney Cancer Awareness week

Friday 5 February 2021

The Library of Birmingham lit up green

Tonight the exterior facade of the Library of Birmingham will be lit up green in support of Kidney Cancer Awareness Week.

Taken from the Kidney Cancer UK website:

From 1 to 5 February is the week where we ask all our friends and supporters to start conversations about kidney cancer. Make as much noise, raise as many hot kidney cancer topics as you can and bring awareness of kidney cancer to everyone. Don’t let the first time they hear the words ‘kidney cancer’ is when their doctor tells them they have it. If we make people aware of the symptoms, the ways to reduce the chances of getting it through healthier living, the ways to avoid contracting a disease they may never recover from.

Kidney Cancer is a hidden killer that strikes without discrimination. The 4th most common symptom of kidney cancer is no symptom. But there are signs and if people know what they are they can at least ensure they bring them to the attention of their GP and at least get them checked.

Kidney cancer can be symptomless

Kidney Cancer often has no symptoms and is often detected during tests for other medical conditions. More than half of adult kidney tumours are detected when using an ultrasound scan to investigate symptoms, such as: high blood pressure, muscle wasting and weight loss, high temperature or fever, disorders affecting the nerves and muscles, inflammation, anaemia, abnormal liver function tests, and high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia).

Symptoms can be vague

Some of the symptoms of kidney cancer can be vague and can be put down to other problems like low back pain, chronic urine infections, chronic fatigue or just being stressed or run down.

Typical symptoms

Blood in the urine. An important symptom that must be investigated is blood in the urine. Doctors call this haematuria. This may come and go and not everyone with kidney cancer will have haematuria. Sometimes you won’t be able to see it, so any change in the colour of your urine should be checked out. Urine tests can pick up minute levels of blood in the urine. It’s important to remember that most people with blood in their urine do not have kidney cancer which is why testing for blood in the urine isn’t a reliable screening test for kidney cancer. Blood in the urine is more likely a sign of an infection, kidney stones, prostate problems or sometimes bladder cancer.. So, while it is unlikely to be a sign of cancer, you should see your GP for further tests to rule out cancer and other serious causes.

Mass in the kidney area. Most kidney cancers are too small to feel, but if you feel a lump or mass in the area of your kidneys you should tell your doctor straight away.

Low back pain or flank pain. Back pain is very common and itself isn’t always a sign of kidney cancer, but some people do report this and it’s always good to get it checked out by your GP. Flank pain is in your side between your ribs and hipbone (sometimes called the loin area). This can be down to lots of other reasons but it’s advisable to tell your doctor if you have this.

Other symptoms

Sometimes abnormal red blood cell counts and high blood pressure (hypertension) can be symptoms of kidney cancer. Some patients experience a condition called polycythaemia, or thickening of the blood, which can also be a symptom of kidney cancer. Symptoms of polycythaemia are a bad headache and redness of the skin.

Other symptoms are more general and can also be caused by many other conditions, such as: weight loss, tiredness and running a persistent temperature and sweating heavily, especially at night.

In about a third of patients, the kidney cancer will have already spread to other organs, such as the lungs, liver, brain and bones. These patients may experience symptoms of advanced kidney cancer, such as: a persistent cough, coughing-up blood (or haemoptysis), abnormal liver function tests, headaches and visual disturbances, or bone pain. You must see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Typical signs and symptoms of kidney cancer

Blood in the urine, also called haematuria
Persistent low back pain or pain in the side between the ribs and hipbone signs of kidney cancer
A lump or mass in the area of the kidneys
Abnormal red blood cell counts
High blood pressure or hypertension
Thickening of the blood (polycythaemia)
Weight loss and/or loss of appetite
Running a persistent temperature and sweating heavily, especially at night

We ask that during Kidney Cancer Awareness Week people include something green in their activities, such as wear a green ribbon, hat or scarf, light your house green, bake green cup cakes, recite Green Eggs and Ham to everyone you meet!! Anything to get someone to ask, ‘what’s all this green about’ and you can have a conversation about the importance of early diagnosis of kidney cancer.

.More information can be found by visiting the Kidney Cancer website

Photograph of the Library of Birmingham lit up green taken by Tom Ranahan

Article posted 5 February 2021

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