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Health Information Center

Diagnosis and Prognosis of Kidney Cancer

  • Debra Wood, RN
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis and Prognosis of Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is often found during an imaging test for another reason. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms (if you have any) and medical and family history. The abdominal, pelvic, and back areas will be carefully examined. Your doctor may recommend different tests in order to identify any tumors and confirm diagnosis.

Suspicion of Kidney Cancer

Certain urinary symptoms can be caused by a range of medical conditions. If you are having urinary symptoms, your doctor may conduct certain tests to identify abnormalities. These may include:

  • Urine tests—To check for the presence of blood, infection, or other abnormal cells in the urine. Urine tests are also useful to evaluate how well the kidneys are working.
  • Blood tests—May identify markers in the blood. For example, tumor markers or specific blood proteins may be elevated in the presence of cancer. Blood tests can also show how well the kidneys and liver are working.

Imaging Tests

Unlike other cancers, kidney cancer can be diagnosed with imaging tests. Imaging tests can also help assess tumor size and location. Some tests use contrast material to highlight structures so images are more clear and detailed. Imaging tests may include:


  • Kidney cancer. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/what-kidney-cancer.
  • Kidney cancer (adult)—renal cell carcinoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003107-pdf.pdf.
  • Renal cell carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114704/Renal-cell-carcinoma.
  • Stages of renal cell cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/patient/kidney-treatment-pdq#section/_26.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.