Diagnosing Kidney Cancer

Accurate, early diagnosis for kidney cancer.

Finding kidney cancer early – before it has a chance to spread to other areas of the body, or metastasize – offers the best chance of beating cancer with powerful and effective kidney cancer treatment options.

What are some signs and symptoms of kidney cancer?

Many people do not experience any noticeable symptoms of kidney cancer at an early stage. In the later stages, some symptoms that could be signs of kidney cancer may include:

  • Blood in your urine, which may appear pink, red or cola colored
  • Pain in your back or side that doesn't go away
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Fever, which usually comes and goes

It’s important to know that these symptoms may also signs be of other kidney disorders.

While it’s unclear what causes kidney cancer, several factors may increase your risk:

  • Age. Your risk for kidney cancer increases as you age.
  • Smoking. While smokers are at an increased risk for kidney cancer, the risk decreases after you quit.
  • Obesity.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of kidney cancer.
  • Treatment for kidney failure. Long-term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure increases the risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Certain inherited syndromes. Those born with certain inherited syndromes may have an increased risk of kidney cancer, such as those who have von Hippel-Lindau disease [URL], Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma or familial renal cancer.
  • Family history of kidney cancer. A strong family history of renal cell cancer puts you at greater risk of kidney cancer.
  • Exposure to certain substances in the workplace.

How is kidney cancer diagnosed?

Some of the lab tests we use when diagnosing kidney cancer include:

  • Blood chemistry
  • Complete blood count (CBC), which measures the amounts of different cells in the blood
  • Urinalysis (urine testing)

These tests do not confirm a kidney cancer diagnosis. Advanced imaging and biopsy will be needed to do that. However, abnormal blood and urine test results can suggest that something is wrong.

Advanced imaging tests for kidney cancer diagnosis

Most often, kidney tumors is discovered when imaging studies are performed for another reason – for example, if you’ve had a traumatic injury that requires imaging for diagnosis.

But if you’re experiencing symptoms of kidney cancer, and had abnormal blood and/or urine tests, our team will perform imaging tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

Advanced imaging testing for kidney cancer include:

When a kidney tumor or mass during the course of a CT scan or MRI scan, we may recommend that you have a needle core biopsy. This test lets us take a sample from the tumor to determine if it’s cancerous.

If the biopsy shows that cancer is present, our team will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan.

How is metastatic kidney cancer diagnosed?

Kidney cancer that has spread beyond the kidneys - to the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, brain, or bones, for example - is known as metastatic kidney cancer.

We can see where your kidney cancer has spread with an imaging texts, including:

Depending on your specific situation, we may need to perform multiple tests to get an accurate picture of where your cancer has spread.

For patients diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, our team offers innovative treatment options and a personalized care plan tailored to your diagnosis.

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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