Kidney Cancer (cont.)
What are kidney cancer symptoms and signs?
Common symptoms of kidney cancer include:
- Blood in the urine (making the urine slightly rusty to deep red)
- Pain in the side that does not go away
- A lump or mass in the side or the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Feeling very tired or having a general feeling of poor health
Most often, these symptoms do not mean cancer. An infection, a cyst, or another problem also can cause the same symptoms. A person with any of these symptoms should see a doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
How is kidney cancer diagnosed?
If a patient has symptoms that suggest kidney cancer, the doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures:
- 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 tumors.
- Urine tests: Urine is checked for blood and other signs of disease.
- Blood tests: The lab checks the blood to see how well the kidneys are working. The lab may check the level of several substances, such as creatinine. A high level of creatinine may mean the kidneys are not doing their job.
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): The doctor injects dye into a vein in the arm. The dye travels through the body and collects in the kidneys. The dye 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 tumor or other problems.
- CT scan (CAT scan): An X-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of the kidneys. The patient may receive an injection of dye so the kidneys show up clearly in the pictures. A CT scan can show a kidney tumor.
- 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
can be sorted out using a sonogram.
- Biopsy: In some cases, the doctor may do a biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of tissue to look for cancer cells. The doctor inserts a thin needle through the skin into the kidney to remove a small amount of tissue. The doctor may use ultrasound or X-rays to guide the needle. A pathologist uses a microscope to look for cancer cells in the tissue.
- Surgery: 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 makes the final diagnosis by examining the tissue under a microscope.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2014
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