How Is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?

Kidney cancer is usually diagnosed through a multi-step process. Typically, the first step is a clinical evaluation. Your physician will ask about any pain, fatigue, urinary issues and/or weight loss that you have recently started experiencing. He or she may also examine your abdomen for small, hard lumps near your kidneys.

Blood and urine tests for kidney cancer

To rule out other potential conditions, your physician will likely order several blood or urine tests. For instance, your physician may check your urine for the presence of albumin, measure the amount of creatinine in your blood and determine your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This can help him or her determine how well your kidneys are working and also indicate whether another, more common condition might be the cause of your symptoms.

Diagnostic imaging scans

While helpful, lab tests alone cannot conclusively diagnose kidney cancer. If your physician believes that a tumor might be present, he or she may order various imaging scans, such as:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • Ultrasounds
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans

The results of these imaging tests can help your physician determine whether there are any tumors or other abnormalities in your abdomen.

Tissue tests

If a tumor is found, the last step in the diagnostic process is usually a tissue test called a biopsy. A small needle is used to remove a portion of the suspicious growth. The cells are then sent to a lab to be examined under a microscope for signs of kidney cancer.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we understand how stressful it can be to have unanswered questions about your health. We will do everything in our power to reduce the uncertainty, providing compassionate support and guidance at every step of the way. No referrals are required to consult with our oncologists, and all of our advanced diagnostic tests and treatments are available under one roof, at one of our three locations.

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one might have kidney cancer, you can turn to Moffitt for the answers you deserve. Call 1-888-663-3888 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment.