What You Need to Know about Kidney Mass


A kidney mass can grow within the body with absolutely no symptoms whatsoever.  Often, the discovery is made quite by accident, when some other type of test is being run on an individual for an unrelated matter.  This fact can be a frightening one, for some of these masses are indicators of kidney cancer.  


Most people have two kidneys, located on each side of the body.  Approximately the size of a fist, the function of these bean shaped organs is to process and clean the entire body’s blood flow. 

Waste products and unneeded fluid are filtered in the kidneys from about 200 quarts of blood each day; removed from the blood and sent to the bladder as urine, where it will eventually be excreted.  The kidneys are also responsible for sending essential hormones into the system; erythropoietin, which encourages bone marrow to produce new red blood cells; renin, a blood pressure regulator and calcitrol, valuable for maintaining calcium in bones and to keep the body within a normal chemical balance. 


In the normal scheme of bodily functions, cell growth is a continual process.  Old cells die away, and new cells are produced to take their place.  These new cells will multiply through division so that the cell count is always being replenished.  This process is usually performed like precise clockwork, but sometimes it goes awry.  The normally orderly function of cell division occasionally goes berserk, making more new cells than the body requires, and old cells not dying away.  Having extra cells in the body is an abnormality, and they collect to form a mass in the area of the cell growth irregularity.  This mass is also called a tumor, or a growth.  These can adheres to one of the organs, such as in a kidney mass.


Masses, or tumors, can be either benign, meaning they are non-invasive and therefore not a threat to life, or malignant; meaning that they can threaten life by invading other parts of the body as new masses are formed.  Unfortunately in the case of kidney tumors, they are rarely found as a direct result of looking for them.  Instead, they are frequently discovered during evaluations of other conditions, such as gallbladder stones.  It is uncommon for early masses to display any symptoms of their presence.


Many of the growths on kidneys that are small, under 4 centimeters, are benign, and account for about 30% of all masses found.  These masses can often be removed with no reoccurrence and with no adverse affects on the health of the individual.  Larger masses that measure over 3 inches are frequently diagnosed as a type of kidney cancer.  


If the kidney mass continues without discovery, symptoms will eventually be experienced that can include blood in the urine, chronic pain in the lower back and the presence of the lump can be felt.  These are the symptoms that should prompt the individual to seek medical attention; the earlier the diagnosis, the more positive the prognosis.  At this time, tests can be conducted to determine the state of the mass.  A CT scan or a magnetic resonance imaging test may be ordered to do this.   A biopsy is also likely to be performed to check the kidney mass for signs of cancerous cells.  Further treatments will be discussed by the doctor after an accurate analysis and evaluation of the types of cells provided in the biopsy.


Improved diagnostic methods are finding more cases of kidney mass in their early stages.  Taking steps to avoid kidney cancer risks, such as discontinuing smoking, losing unnecessary weight and being aware of family history can help to avoid surprise discoveries and find any masses early.


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