Screening tests available for kidney cancer: The available screening tests for kidney cancer basically involve imaging of the body’s internal areas, as blood tests cannot detect kidney cancer.
When suspected of kidney cancer, the way to confirm it is through kidney imaging study. There are no blood or urine tests that can detect kidney cancer. The only option left is some or the other type of imaging study, usually CT scan or ultrasound. At times two or more imaging studies may be needed to evaluate the malignant tumour growing in the kidney.
- Computed Tomography (CT Scan) – CT Scan is used to get a visual of internal organs. It uses specialised X-rays to get cross-section image of certain specific internal areas of the body. It is different from ordinary X-rays which as it facilitate much more detailed scanning of your internal organs. Their pictures can be taken one thin slice at a time. Moreover, there is a built-in feature in the Scanning machines linked to computers to put together these thin slices of images and show the size and location of abnormalities. This is one of the major screening tests for diagnosing kidney cancer.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI is similar to a CT scan but is better for evaluating certain internal areas of the body such as the bones. Cross-section images of specific areas of the body can be obtained with MRI. It allows for convenient layer by layer observation of the internal areas that need to be scanned for detecting kidney cancer. A powerful magnet is used for creating these images and this is needed when CT scan is ineffective.
- Ultrasound – When a person finds blood in the urine, it becomes necessary to get an ultrasound of the kidneys, in which there is special focus on the bladder, ureters and kidneys. Ultrasound uses sound waves for imaging and it can be used to produce images of the internal organs. If any mass of tumour is detected, it may well be due to kidney cancer.
- Angiography – It is a procedure in which the location and function of arteries is visualised. It involves threading up a large artery in the leg which leads up to the renal artery of the kidney. After this, an injection of contrast dye is given into the artery to make the blood vessels outlined. It is a procedure which helps the surgeon plan an operation better, as the blood vessels supplying blood to the kidney are outlined.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan) – It is a kind of scan which measures the spread of a cancer by using a specialised diagnostic study.
- Bone Scan - A bone scan can check for the extent of cancer’s spread in the bones. It involves injection of small amounts of a special type of radioactive material in the vein and ultimately into the bloodstream. It cannot detect cancers from other conditions such as arthritis, and that is why it cannot be considered final.
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