Screening and diagnosis
In addition to taking a complete medical history and performing a
physical exam, your doctor will likely recommend blood and urine tests.
You may also have one or more of these tests to check for growths or
In this test, a contrast dye is injected into a vein in your arm. A
series of X-rays are taken as the dye moves through your kidneys,
ureters and bladder.
An ultrasound isn't an X-ray. Instead, it uses high-frequency sound
waves to generate images of your internal organs, such as your
kidneys and bladder, on a computer screen.
tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
CT scans use computers to create more detailed images than those
created by conventional X-rays. MRI scans use magnetic fields and
radio waves to generate cross-sectional pictures of your body.
In this test, a sample of tissue is removed and examined under a
microscope. It's the only way to confirm the presence of cancer.
Depending on the results of the biopsy, your doctor may recommend
removing a tumor right away.
Tests for transitional cell cancer
If the results of an IVP suggest transitional cell cancer, your doctor
will likely recommend a test that examines your bladder for signs of
cancer (cystoscopy). In this procedure, a long, narrow tube called a
cystoscope is inserted through your urethra into your bladder. The tube
carries a light source and special lens, which allow your doctor to
inspect both your urethra and bladder. The cystoscope can also be used
to remove a small tissue sample from a tumor. In some cases a
microscopic examination of the sediment in your urine may also help
identify cancer cells.
Tests to determine whether cancer has spread
If your doctor finds signs of kidney cancer, the next step is to
determine whether the cancer has spread. This usually means more tests,
including additional blood tests, an ultrasound of your liver, a CT
scan, a chest X-ray or a bone scan. A bone scan is a test in which
you're given a small amount of a radioactive material that's then taken
up by your bones. Tumors absorb even more of this material and show up
as a black area when a special camera scans your body.
If your doctor decides your diseased kidney should be removed, he or she
will also want to make sure your other kidney is healthy. In almost all
cases, you can function well with one normal kidney.
If you've received a diagnosis of kidney cancer, you may want to seek a
second opinion. Sometimes your insurance company may even require you to
do so. In that case, your current doctor may be able to recommend other
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