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Kidney cancer diagnosis begins with a physician’s evaluation of the symptoms a patient is experiencing. The physician may then perform or order certain tests to examine the abdomen and kidneys in depth to determine whether kidney cancer, sometimes referred to as “renal cell cancer,” is present.  Physicians will often begin the diagnostic process with a physical exam, looking for signs of disease, such as lumps or other abnormalities. A patient’s health habits, past illnesses and other information will be noted as part of this process.

What Tests Are Used to Diagnose Kidney Cancer?

Additional diagnostic testing for kidney cancer may include a:

  • Urine test – A lab will check for discoloration, the presence of blood and other unusual characteristics.
  • Blood test – A technician may check a patient’s blood for the presence of certain substances that can indicate cancer within the tissues or organs that produce those substances.
  • Imaging test – Ultrasounds, X-rays, and CT scans provide physicians with a visual understanding of what may be going on within organ tissues. Dye may be injected into a patient’s blood (sometimes called an intravenous pyelogram, or IVP) to enhance the clarity of these images.
  • Biopsy – Sometimes, a kidney cancer diagnosis will involve taking a small tissue sample from the affected area. A pathologist will then examine the sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present.
  • Surgery – In some cases, a surgeon may remove part or all of a kidney tumor to better examine the affected tissues.

Some patients who come to the Urologic Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center have already received a preliminary diagnosis and are seeking a second opinion. However, you do not need an existing diagnosis or a referral to consult with our multispecialty team of experts. Our kidney cancer team will carefully assess any existing test results and information, conduct additional tests that may be needed and then meet as a collaborative tumor board to discuss the results. We assess each patient on a case-by-case basis, paying close attention to the unique dynamics of his or her condition and developing a targeted, individualized treatment plan designed to ensure the best possible outcome and highest quality of life.

Moffitt Cancer Center has the extensive experience and advanced tools necessary to diagnose and treat kidney cancer. We’re the only cancer center based in Florida to have earned the prestigious designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. To learn more about our kidney cancer diagnosis process and discuss your symptoms with our team of experts, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out our new patient registration form.