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Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

Blood Tests
After blood is drawn, the lab will check the blood to see how well the kidneys are working. The lab will also check the level of several substances, such as creatinine. A high level of creatinine can indicate that the kidneys are not doing their job.
Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
For an IVP, the doctor will inject dye into a vein in the arm. The dye will then travel through the body and collect in the kidneys. The dye will make the cancer show up on x-rays.
A series of x-rays will then track the dye as it moves through the kidneys to the ureters and bladder. The x-rays can show a kidney tumor or other problems.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
A CT scan uses an x-ray machine linked to a computer to take a series of detailed pictures of the kidneys. The patient may receive an injection of dye so that the kidneys will show up clearly in the pictures. A CT scan can show a kidney tumor. A CT scan is also called a CAT scan.
Ultrasound Test
An ultrasound test uses sound waves that people cannot hear. The sound waves bounce off the kidneys, and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture called a sonogram. If there is a solid tumor or cyst, it will show up on a sonogram.
In some cases, the doctor will need to do a biopsy to make a kidney cancer diagnosis. A biopsy is the removal of tissue to look for cancer cells. The doctor will insert a thin needle through the skin into the kidney to remove a small amount of tissue. The doctor can use an ultrasound or x-rays to guide the needle. A pathologist will then use a microscope to look for cancer cells in the tissue.
In most cases, based on the results of the CT scan, ultrasound, and x-rays, the doctor will have enough information to recommend surgery to remove part or all of the kidney. A pathologist will make the final diagnosis by examining the tissue under a microscope.
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