is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?
following tests and procedures may be used:
- Physical exam:
The doctor checks general signs of health and tests for fever and high blood
pressure. The doctor also feels the abdomen and side for tumours
- Urine tests:
Urine is checked for blood and other signs of disease.
- Blood tests: As a part of investigating
possible kidney cancer, a number of blood tests may also be done. This includes
checking for anaemia, a low level of red blood cells which carry oxygen around
the body. They will also check the level of several substances, such as creatinine.
A high level of creatinine may mean the kidneys are not doing their job. Other
blood tests can check liver markers and will help doctors decide if the tumour
has spread into the liver or the bones.
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP):
The doctor injects dye into a vein in the arm. The dye travels through the
body and collects in the kidneys and makes them show up on x-rays. A series
of x-rays then tracks the dye as it moves through the kidneys to the ureters
and bladder. The x-rays can show a kidney tumour or other problems.
- CT scan (CAT scan): A scan of
the abdomen is the first step in diagnosing kidney cancer. An abdominal CT,
formerly known as a CAT scan, is the most commonly performed. An ultrasound
is the alternative way to look at the kidneys, and this may also show a mass.
- Ultrasound test:
The ultrasound device uses sound waves that people cannot hear. The waves
bounce off the kidneys and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture
called a sonogram. A solid tumor or cyst shows up on a sonogram.
samples may be obtained by passing a needle into the kidney and removing some
tissue for examination, which is known as a renal biopsy. More commonly, if
scans and blood tests strongly indicate the mass may be cancer, the kidney,
or part of the kidney will be removed (nephrectomy, partial nephrectomy) and
the suspicious tissue is examined after removal. This avoids the need for
two procedures, provides more accurate information and avoids possible spread
of cancer during the process of biopsy. Examination of the tissue after removal
is important to provide information about the correct treatment and likely
outcome of the cancer. If RCC has already spread, it may be easier to get
a biopsy specimen from a site other than the kidney.
In most cases, based on the results of the CT scan, ultrasound and x-rays,
the doctor has enough information to recommend surgery to remove part or all
of the kidney. A pathologist then makes the final diagnosis by examining the
tissue under a microscope.
- MRI: MRI may be used when results
of CT and ultrasound scans are unsatisfactory or if CT can't be used (e.g.
due to an allergy to the contrast agent).
- Bone scans and PET: Bone scans
may be performed if individuals with RCC have bone pain or abnormal liver
function tests. PET may be more sensitive that bone scanning to detect spread
of cancer to the bones, however RCC does not always show up on a PET scan
and it is more expensive and is not generally used for routine staging.
Return To Top