Half of all patients with kidney cancer are initially misdiagnosed, data from Kidney Cancer UK’s patient survey has revealed.

In 45% of patients surveyed the disease was first mistaken for less serious conditions such as a urine infection, kidney stones or respiratory problems, the charity said.

The survey also revealed that 73% of patients showed no signs of the disease before diagnosis, and in 42.6% it was discovered incidentally, so not related to feeling well or kidney cancer.

The findings are particularly pertinent given that once diagnosed, around half (48%) of patients are already at the most advanced form of the disease, stage III or IV, where the prognosis is much worse.

Kidney Cancer UK says that in light of the “shocking results” and increasing prevalence of the disease it is calling on the government to support research into a national kidney cancer screening programme, to help accelerate diagnosis and effective treatment for patients.

“The finding that, of those surveyed, almost half of patients had no symptoms before diagnosis really shows how difficult it is to diagnose kidney cancer and the urgent need for better ways of identifying this silent killer earlier,” said GP Dr Juliet Usher-Smith.

“We urgently need clear quality standards and performance indicators to support clinicians to help them identify at-risk patients, until a simple test to detect kidney cancer can be developed,” added Nick Turkentine, the charity’s chief executive.