Kidney Health

General Kidney Health

Most people are born with two kidneys, each one about the size of an adult fist, bean-shaped and weighing around 150 grams each. The kidneys are located at both sides of your backbone, just under the rib cage or above the small of your back. They are protected from injury by a large padding of fat, your lower ribs and several muscles.
Your blood supply circulates through the kidneys about 12 times every hour. Each day your kidneys process around 200 litres of blood. The kidneys make urine (wee) from excess fluid and unwanted chemicals or waste in your blood.
Urine flows down through narrow tubes called ureters to the bladder where it is stored. When you feel the need to wee, the urine passes out of your body through a tube called the urethra. Around one to two litres of waste leave your body each day as urine. 
The kidneys perform the following jobs which are important to your overall health:
  • Blood Pressure Control
  • Water Balance
  • Cleaning Blood
  • Vitamin D Activation
Keep your kidneys healthy by doing the following:
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat wisely
  • Exercise regularly
  • To satisfy thirst, drink water
  • Limit alcohol intake

Kidney Health Check

If you know the risk factors of kidney disease, and ask your doctor for a regular Kidney Health Check you can help detect kidney disease early and improve your outcomes.

Adult Australians are at an increased risk of chronic kidney disease if they:

  • have diabetes
  • have high blood pressure
  • have established heart problems (heart failure or heart attack) or have had a stroke
  • have a family history of kidney failure
  • are obese with a body mass index (BMI) 30 or higher
  • are a smoker
  • are 60 years or older
  • are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
  • have a history of acute kidney injury.

To find out more about these risk factors, take this simple ‘question and answer’ test: Check my kidneys.

The risk can be reduced by understanding symptoms that can indicate kidney disease.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that arises from the cells of the kidney. Another name for kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma. The most common type of kidney cancer is clear cell carcinoma. Kidney cancer is caused by changes in DNA in cells within the kidney. Our bodies are always making new cells, so we can grow, to replace worn-out cells, or heal damaged cells after injury.

Like most cancers, kidney cancers begin small and can grow larger over time. They usually grow as a single mass, but more than one tumour may occur in one or both kidneys.

If kidney cancer is treated in its early stages it is most likely to be cured. If kidney cancer cells spread, they may spread into surrounding tissue or to other parts of the body. When kidney cells reach a new organ or bone, they might continue to grow and form another tumour (a metastasis) at that site.

Primary cancer is a cancer that has formed in an organ (in this case the kidney) but has not spread elsewhere. Other words like ‘localised’ or ‘early’ apply if the primary cancer has not spread.

Secondary cancers or metastases (or metastatic or advanced cancers) have spread from somewhere else in the body. It’s very rare for a cancer from another part of the body to spread to the kidney.



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Web content is based on the “Kidney Health Australia" website: