Watch CBS News

National Kidney Month: Doctors aiming to spread awareness on kidney cancer

Spreading kidney disease awareness during National Kidney Month
Spreading kidney disease awareness during National Kidney Month 03:30

DALLAS ( — March is National Kidney Month and doctors are trying to spread awareness about kidney disease and cancer. Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women.

On the fifth anniversary of being cancer free, Steve Lapensohn is grateful to be alive. 

He takes everyday by storm and refuses to take anything for granted, because at one point—he didn't know what his future held.

"Out the blue, I started having some pains...some chest pains," Lapensohn said.

It turns out the pain he was experiencing was his body indicating something was not right. He went to UT Southwestern Medical Center a few months later and it was at that time his doctor noticed something unusual.

"We found a six-centimeter tumor on my right kidney," Lapensohn said.

Lapensohn was in shock but his doctor wasted no time making a treatment plan. Less than one month later, he was heading into surgery to get the tumor removed.

"As with any cancer, early detection translates to better survival," UT Southwestern's Dr. Vitaly Margulis said. "If kidney cancer is discovered at Stage 1, the survival rate is almost 100%."

Dr. Margulis said getting checked early saved Lapensohn's life.

"If we discover it late and it spreads, the [survival rate] drops down to 10%," she explained.

The typical symptoms for kidney cancer are blood in the urine, pain on the side, unexplained weight loss or a mass. 

Health experts say in majority of cases there are no symptoms, and kidney cancer is usually discovered when a patient comes in for something else.

"In the United States, about 80,000 Americans will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year," Dr. Margulis said.

Five years later and kidney cancer free, Lapensohn now spreads awareness about kidney cancer and helps patients in need.

"I started a company called Kick Cancer Shoes and I wanted to give back and help families," he said. "I wanted to be able to have a direct impact on the result of selling the shoes; we all need a new pair of shoes…it gives us the ability to then take those proceeds and help a family."  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.