Precision Kidney Cancer Diagnostics for Superior Outcomes

Kidney cancer, or renal cell carcinoma, is a type of urologic cancer. Many kidney cancer symptoms, such as blood in the urine, fatigue, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss could also be symptoms of other conditions. If you are experiencing signs of cancer symptoms, your doctor may send you for diagnostic testing.

Common Tests Used to Determine a Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

There are a variety of tests that are useful in making a kidney cancer diagnosis. While some tests may only show signs that may suggest cancer, only a biopsy can ultimately provide a diagnosis.

Laboratory Tests

Depending on your symptoms, age, health and type of cancer suspected, your doctor may proceed with the following lab tests:

  • Urine analysis. A urinalysis may be performed to screen for blood, bacteria, or cancer cells in the urine. If present, your doctor would proceed with further testing to make a kidney cancer diagnosis.
  • Blood tests. Your doctor may perform a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry test to measure your red and white blood cell count, as well as other markers that may be linked with kidney cancer. If abnormal, your doctor would proceed with further testing to make a kidney cancer diagnosis.
  • Biomarker testing. Your oncologist may recommend running lab tests to get a map of the proteins, genes and other factors concerning the tumor. Biomarker testing, also called molecular testing, aids in kidney cancer diagnosis and may inform your treatment options.

Imaging Tests

In addition to the tests above, a doctor may prescribe imaging tests to visually identify tumors. Imaging tests may include:

  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP). This type of X-ray technology is used to identify kidney disease, urinary tract problems (UTIs), or kidney cancer. It uses contrast dye that allows your oncologist to view your kidneys and ureters to look for abnormalities.
  • Ultrasound. Also known as sonography, this diagnostic imaging method uses sound waves within your body to produce an image of the area. It is useful in aiding a kidney cancer diagnosis as it detects abnormalities including cysts and some cancer tumors.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI is a useful tool in gathering information for a kidney cancer diagnosis. The use of magnetic fields allows your oncologist to capture detailed images within the body, including signs of abnormalities. A special dye may be injected prior to the scan to provide a clearer scan of the area.
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan). This imaging technology takes 3D scans within the body which can identify any abnormalities, such as the presence of cysts or tumors. They can then be measured and identified by type through the help of injectable dyes. Since cysts and tumors respond to the dyes differently, this imaging helps inform a kidney cancer diagnosis.
  • Cystoscopy and nephro-ureteroscopy. Occasionally, this special test is performed when renal pelvis cancer is suspected. Performed while the patient is under sedation, it involves the insertion of a thin, lighted tube through the bladder into the kidney to take a sample of the tumor for biopsy. During this procedure, the doctor may destroy smaller tumors, if present. From the biopsy, an oncologist may then make a kidney cancer diagnosis.

Biopsy

A biopsy is ultimately required to make a kidney cancer diagnosis. It involves the removal of a small amount of tissue to be examined by a pathologist under a microscope. The pathology report will include the findings, which will include the type of cell involved in the cancer, if present.

Our Kidney Cancer Specialists

As part of the largest health system in New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health offers a multidisciplinary team of kidney care specialists to help determine whether the signs and symptoms you may be experiencing could be kidney cancer, and to treat if necessary.

Our kidney cancer team includes oncologists, surgeons, urologists, radiologists, registered nurses and pathologists who are experts at recognizing kidney cancer symptoms and using the latest technology to determine a kidney cancer diagnosis.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best kidney cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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