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Kidney Cancer Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis

A patient with kidney cancer symptoms at Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, Georgia may have one or more of the following procedures to diagnose kidney cancer, renal cell cancer and/or other genitourinary cancers:

Symptoms and Signs of Kidney Cancer
There are several symptoms that may indicate kidney cancer or renal cell cancer, but there are other things that may cause these same symptoms.

Symptoms of renal cell carcinoma include:

  • Anemia
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lump in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss for no known reason

Diagnosis of Kidney Cancer
Various imaging and diagnostic tests and a physical examination and are used to detect and diagnose renal cancer.

Diagnostic techniques include:

  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the collection of cells that can then be viewed by a pathologist and is the most conclusive way to diagnose many cancers, including kidney cancer. For renal cell cancer, a thin needle is inserted into the tumor and a sample of tissue is withdrawn.
  • Blood tests: Blood can be checked to measure the levels of certain substances in the blood. If these are too high or low this may be a sign of kidney cancer.
  • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of kidney disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
  • Urinalysis: A test to check the color and content of urine—including sugar, protein, red blood cells and white blood cells.

Imaging techniques include:

  • CT Scan: Also called a CAT scan, this makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): A procedure that uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
  • Ultrasound: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs. These returned waves produce images called sonograms. This is the same process used to view the fetus inside pregnant women.
  • X-ray: Produces images of the kidneys, ureters and bladder. These can be used to find out if cancer is present in these organs.

Stages of Kidney Cancer
Once kidney cancer (or renal cell cancer) has been diagnosed, it is important to determine the stage of the disease. The stage will help physicians decide the best treatment plan.

The stages of renal cell cancer are:

  • Stage 1: The tumor is 7 cm or smaller and is found only in the kidney.
  • Stage 2: The tumor is larger than 7 cm and is found only in the kidney.
  • Stage 3: The tumor is found in the kidney and in one nearby lymph node or in the adrenal gland or in the layer of fatty tissue around the kidney. It may also be found in one nearby lymph node or in mail blood vessels of the kidney and one nearby lymph node.
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread beyond the layer of fatty tissue around the kidney and may be found in one nearby lymph node, two or more nearby lymph nodes, or to other organs, *such as bower, pancreas, or lungs) and may be found in nearby lymph nodes.

Kidney Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis Questions
Contact us for more information about kidney cancer symptoms and diagnosis.