Kidney CancerKidney Cancer Symptoms

Let's Talk About Kidney Cancer Symptoms

It’s hard to spot a disease when there are few signs that anything could be wrong. We asked the experts what to look for when it comes to kidney cancer.

    Our Pro PanelKidney Cancer Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts on kidney cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Pedro Barata, M.D. headshot

    Pedro Barata, M.D.Medical Oncologist

    Tulane Cancer Center
    New Orleans, LA
    Katy Beckerman, M.D, Ph.D.

    Katy Beckerman, M.D, Ph.D.Medical Oncologist

    Vanderbilt University Medical Center
    Nashville, TN
    Benjamin Chung, M.D. headshot.

    Benjamin Chung, M.D.Director of Robotic Surgery and Urologic Oncologist

    Stanford University Medical Center
    Stanford, CA

    Frequently Asked QuestionsKidney Cancer Symptoms

    Can I be screened for kidney cancer?

    In short, no. There’s no lab test to diagnose kidney cancer. But if you’re at high risk because of family history or show suspicious symptoms, doctors will run imaging tests to look for a growth in your kidneys.

    How do I know if I have kidney cancer?

    The only way to confirm kidney cancer is to remove a piece of the tumor, either with a biopsy or surgery, and look at the cells under a microscope, but imaging tests can give doctors a good idea of what looks like cancer.

    Can doctors tell how long a tumor has been growing?

    There’s no way to know if a cancer has been slowly forming in a kidney for years or just popped up. Kidney cancers may grow a few millimeters each year, or swell to several centimeters in under a year, often depending on the type of cancer.

    Why don’t doctors use PET scans to look for kidney cancer?

    Although these imaging tests work well to detect some other types of cancer, they don’t usually pick up kidney cancers because many tumors won’t take up the dye used in a PET scan. Instead, CT scans or MRIs are the best imaging tests to look for kidney cancer.

    Lexi Krupp

    Lexi Krupp

    Lexi Krupp is a journalist who covers health and science stories for audio and print.