If a patient has symptoms that suggest kidney cancer, the doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures:
Physical exam: The doctor checks the general signs of health and examines for fever and high blood pressure. The doctor also feels the abdomen and side for any lump.
Urine tests: Urine is checked for blood and other signs of disease.
Blood tests: The lab checks the blood to see how well the kidneys are working. The lab may check the level of several substances, such as creatinine, urea, uric acid etc. High level of creatinine may reflect that the kidneys are not doing their job.
Ultrasound test: The ultrasound device uses sound waves that people cannot hear. The waves bounce off the kidneys, and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture called a sonogram. A solid tumor or cyst shows up on a sonogram.
CT scan: An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of the kidneys. The patient may receive an injection of dye which show up the kidneys clearly in the pictures. A CT scan can show a kidney tumor.
Biopsy: In some cases, the doctor may do a biopsy. Biopsy is the removal of tissue to look for cancer cells. The doctor inserts a thin needle through the skin into the kidney to remove a small amount of tissue. The doctor may use ultrasound or x-ray to guide the needle. A pathologist uses a microscope to look for cancer cells in the tissue.
Surgery: In most cases, based on the results of the CT scan, ultrasound and x-ray, the doctor gets enough information to recommend surgery to remove the part or entire kidney. A pathologist makes the final diagnosis by examining the tissue under a microscope.