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: happytracks, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

I am a four-year dialysis patient. Two months ago, my nephrologist ordered a kidney scan. The results showed a tumor on my left kidney; I was told it was cancer. No biopsy has been taken, and I have doubts. My doctor said if it was not cancer it would have some kind of drainage in it. He sent me to another nephrologist, who bluntly said I have kidney cancer by looking at my scan. I am not satisfied about this matter. Thus far, I have no pain, and I can't be put to sleep due to a high allergy to anesthesia. I need advice. I have dialysis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday year round.

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Comment from: nae, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 11

I received a diagnosis of kidney cancer three and a half years ago. It was clear cell carcinoma, stage 2. I had a 5 centimeter tumor on my right kidney. I had partial nephrostomy. My symptoms were cold like symptoms; fever, fatigue and pain in my lower back. These symptoms worsened and I had them for a year. I spent a year with doctors telling me there was nothing wrong. Listen to your body, I knew there was something wrong. After routine CT test there are now 2 masses on my left kidney. The small one is 1.6cm and other is 1.8cm and I am scared.

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