Kidney Cancer - Diagnosis

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How was your kidney cancer diagnosed?

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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.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Diz, (Patient) Published: October 30

I felt like I had the flu for a couple of years. I would just develop more symptoms of the flu. I was missing a lot of work. Extremely tired all the time and it felt like I would wake up tired. I had been having a lot of tests by my doctor and others. Then my blood pressure went sky high. Another doctor decided to do a 24 hour urine test. From that test they knew I had kidney cancer. I had stage 3 cancer. I had my left kidney removed and was in hospital for 5 days. I feel wonderful now.

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Comment from: SASA, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 26

My mother died of ovarian cancer and since that time I have had a routine check/scan to make sure I have not developed this. Two weeks ago I had this year's check. I did not hear from the doctor so assumed all was well. Something was nagging at me and I called the doctor. I was told the scan had not been looked at! They called me back to see the doctor that day. The report had shown that the scan had detected a 1.5 cm lesion on my left kidney. I had a CAT scan yesterday and it came back as probably being cancer, though I shall find out when I see the specialist. I am in a state of a dream and can't believe it. I am a vegetarian, normal weight, healthy, and have no symptoms. I am hoping to sort this out with diet rather than surgery. I have been put in a position of having to walk my talk, and it is very scary.

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