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Diagnosing kidney cancer

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A thorough and accurate kidney cancer diagnosis is the first step in developing a kidney cancer treatment plan. Your integrated team of kidney cancer experts will use a variety of tests and tools designed for diagnosing kidney cancer, evaluating the disease and developing your individualized treatment plan. Throughout your treatment, we"ll use imaging and laboratory tests to monitor your response to treatment and modify your plan when needed.

Examples of the types of procedures used for diagnosing kidney cancer include:

Biopsy: If an imaging test shows evidence of a possible malignant tumor, a biopsy may be performed to determine if the mass is cancerous. We perform these diagnostic tests under local anesthesia, by inserting a needle directly into the tissue. The extracted tissue or cells are then inspected under a microscope to diagnose and stage the tumor.

CT scan: A CT scan for kidney cancer uses X-ray images to present detailed images of the kidneys. The GE Discovery™ PET/CT 600 Scanner is a state-of-the-art four-dimensional CT scanner that produces detailed cross-sectional X-ray images of structures within the body. It also enables our radiologists to plan treatment in accordance with patients" breathing patterns.

Lab tests used to diagnose kidney cancer include:

  • Advanced genomic testing looks for DNA alterations in cancer cells that may be driving the growth of tumor. By identifying the mutations that occur in a cancer cell"s genome, we may better understand what caused the tumor and tailor treatment based on these findings.
  • Nutrition panel is a test used to evaluate patients for deficiency of nutrients, such as vitamin D and iron. The test helps us identify the nutrients patients need replaced or boosted to support their quality of life.

MRI may be useful for kidney cancer detection and diagnosis, because it has greater soft tissue contrast than a CT scan.

PET/CT scan may be is useful for kidney cancer because scans may reveal cancerous cells before tumors or structural changes are present. This may help catch the disease early.

Urinalysis may be used to look for blood in the urine. Because blood in the urine may be caused by an infection or other benign conditions, before making a cancer diagnosis, we examine the urine cells under a special microscope to help us detect cancerous activity. This procedure is called urine cytology.

Learn more about kidney cancer types

Next topic: How is kidney cancer treated?

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