Kidney disease costs the England National Health Service more than breast, lung, colon and skin cancer combined.
An estimated million cases remain undiagnosed and untreated, according to the report published on Monday by NHS Kidney Care.
The study revealed the chronic condition costs the NHS in England more than £1.4bn each year, which is more than the combined spend on breast, lung, colon and skin cancer.
Around 1.8m people in England have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, which is where the kidneys become less effective at filtering waste products from blood.
However, an estimated million people have the condition without realising it, which means they are not receiving help to tackle the disease in its earlier stages. Early treatment can prevent the need for expensive dialysis or transplant and cuts the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The number of people receiving dialysis or transplant increased by 29 per cent between 2002 and 2008. Total prevalence of CKD (diagnosed and undiagnosed) is also believed to be increasing.
The study found that half a million people with CKD were not tested in 2009-10 to see if they would benefit from certain kidney drugs.
The experts estimated that around 29,000 would have been prescribed the medication as a result, ultimately saving the NHS £13million a year.
NHS Kidney Care is urging GPs to improve the detection and early treatment of CKD, and has developed a range of professional resources to help them do this.
Beverley Matthews, Director of NHS Kidney Care, said: ‘Chronic kidney disease, if unchecked, can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and as this study shows, it is also a major drain on NHS resources.’
Dr Donal O’Donoghue, National Clinical Director for Kidney Care, said, ‘This report from the NHS Kidney Care team is a wake-up call for everyone involved in the fight against kidney disease. As a kidney doctor for over 25 years, one of the most enduring themes has been missed opportunities to identify kidney disease early.”
The study Chronic Kidney Disease in England: The Human and Financial Cost has been published in the journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation.
Kidney disease: Signs and symptoms
Our kidneys filter out waste products from the blood before converting them into urine. They also help maintain blood pressure.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work as well as normal.
CKD is very common and the risk increases as you age. It is also more common among south Asian and black people.
CKD does not usually cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. It can be detected early on via blood and urine tests.
The main symptoms of advanced kidney disease include tiredness, swollen ankles or hands, shortness of breath, nausea and blood in urine.
Those with the condition have a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. It can also cause kidney failure, when sufferers will need to have dialysis and possible transplant.
However, lifestyle changes and medication can stop it getting worse if it’s diagnosed at an early stage.