Kidney Cancer Screening

Testing & Screening

If you have some of the common symptoms of kidney cancer, your doctor will perform a physical exam and take a complete medical and family history.  The medical and family history can help your doctor determine any potential factors that put you at a higher risk for kidney cancer. During the physical exam, the doctor may be able to feel a mass when examining your lower back or belly.  If your doctor suspects you may have kidney cancer, there are a number of tests and screenings that can be performed.

Your doctor may collect a sample of your urine to look for small amounts of blood.  Microscopic and chemical tests will be run on your urine to help determine if there is any sign of cancer.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)
For this test, your doctor will take a sample of your blood.  A complete blood count measures the number of different types of cells in your blood.  People with kidney cancer will often have abnormal results.  For example, people with kidney cancer often have a low count of red blood cells.  If your red blood count is low, your doctor will run additional tests to help determine if cancer cells are present.

Blood Chemistry Tests
If your doctor has reason to think you may have kidney cancer, they may perform a blood chemistry test. Blood chemistry tests measure the level of certain chemicals in the blood, which may indicate the presence of cancer.  These tests can also look at kidney function, which is important to know before further procedures are scheduled.

Unlike most other cancers, kidney cancer can often be diagnosed through the use of imaging technology.  However, sometimes imaging tests are unclear and a biopsy is done to confirm cancer.  A biopsy involves taking a sample of a mass in your kidney to view under a microscope.  In general, the risk of complications from a kidney biopsy is low.