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Blood & protein in urine.

  I am a 26 year old female, and about 2 years ago my doctor discovered blood and protein in my urine.  I was ordered and IVP, which turned out to be inconclusive.  The doctor deduced that I had a "leaky kidney", and shrugged it off by saying that we will just keep an eye on it.  Last year's physical showed the same levels of blood and protein, and since I had no other symptoms no additional testing was ordered.  
  Yesterday I had a physical again, and the doctor said that my blood and protein levels have increased (my urine was very dark, and usually is darker in the morning).  I have an appointment in one month with a kidney specialist.
  I am very worried about this and have been provided limited information and advise from my regular doctor regarding this.  I have been reading up on it on the internet, and found an article about Hematuria.  I hate to self-diagnose myself, but this is sounding dead on.  This article goes on to say that the blood and, and particularly protein, may be a sign of cancer, and that has got me even more worried.  I know very little about kidney cancer, but I don't like the sounds of it!!
  I guess I really have 2 questions for you that I am hoping that you can answer:
  1.  How worried should I be?  What other symptom are there for kidney cancer?
  2.  What steps should I be taking now to take better care of my kidneys?
  Any information that you could provide me with would be most appreciated.
  Jennifer  Cleary
Dear Jennifer,
Blood in the urine is referred to as hematuria.  It may be visible to the naked eye (gross hematuria) or only detected by a dipstick urine test or microscope (microscopic hematuria).  In any case, there are a variety of causes for blood in the urine (such as stones, infection, cancer/tumor, filtration problem/kidney disease, etc.), the source of which may be anywhere in the urinary tract; kidneys, ureters, bladder, or  urethra.  However, since the list of differential diagnoses is long, I will limit this reply to your specific questions.  The only thing that I would like to indicate is that the work-up of hematuria is a IVP and cystoscopy (one of which you have had) to evaluate both the upper and lower urinary tracts respectively.  Usually the results are negative, and the hematuria is attributed to benign causes such as
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