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Research / UCCRI/ Kidney Portal/ Kidney Cancer/ Diagnosis

Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

In order to diagnose renal cancer and determine whether it has spread to other parts of the body, your physician may use a combination of diagnostic tools and tests.

Any of the following procedures may be used by your physician:

Urinalysis and blood test: The urine is analyzed chemically under the microscope for signs of blood, cancerous cells and other factors suggesting kidney cancer. A complete blood count is also used to check for other markers commonly associated with kidney cancer, such as a deficiency of red blood cells (anemia), an excess of red blood cells (erythrocytosis) and sometimes higher levels of liver-related enzymes and calcium.

CT (Computed Tomography) Scan: A scan completed to generate an accurate visualization of a cross-section of your kidney.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): A high – powered scan similar to a CT scan but it generates a more detailed image of a certain part of the bone, such as bone.

Bone Scan:  A diagnostic procedure involving the intravenous injection of a small amount of radioactive material into the body which accumulates in the bones. It is often used in conjunction with other tests to identify whether kidney cancer has metastasized to the bones.

Ultrasound: A tool commonly used by doctors to help initially diagnose kidney cancer that uses sound waves bouncing off your internal organs to produce images. A kidney tumour will reflect a different pattern of sound waves, and therefore a different image, than normal kidney tissue in an ultrasound.

Angiography: A contrasting dye injected into the body through an artery that leads into the kidney in order to visualize the location and functioning of kidney arteries. This test can aid in diagnosing kidney cancer and in mapping out the blood vessels that are supplying a tumour. 

Biopsy: A small tissue sample is removed and tested by a pathologist to determine if the cells are benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).