Diagnosing Kidney Cancer   
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Diagnosing Kidney Cancer

How Kidney Cancer is Diagnosed

If you have a mass in your kidney, you’ll need tests to make an accurate diagnosis. We use the most advanced imaging and laboratory tests to examine your kidney tumor and help your care team recommend the best treatment. 

Lab Tests

Urinalysis: Looks for blood in the urine and other signs of cancer. 

Blood tests:
Can detect lack of iron or other nutrients that can be signs of cancer.


A biopsy tests your kidney tissue for cancer. A biopsy is performed under local anesthesia. A needle is inserted directly into the kidney and a small amount of tissue is taken. The tissue is examined under a microscope, to identify cancer cells and the grade of tumor. 

Genomic Testing

Your tumor tissue may undergo genomic testing. This identifies DNA mutations in your cancer cells. The resulting genomic profile of your cancer gives us information on what caused your cancer, which treatments will be most effective, and if there are clinical trials for your precise type of kidney cancer.

Understanding Your Diagnosis

Stage and Grade

When you are diagnosed with cancer, your cancer will have a stage. If your cancer has been biopsied, it also will have a grade. The stage and grade help determine your treatment. 

Stage: How much cancer is in your body, based on the size of your tumor and if it has spread to your lymph nodes and other parts of your body. The stages* of kidney cancer are based on:  
T (Tumor):  The size and growth of the tumor
N ( Lymph Nodes): If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
M (Metastasis): If the cancer has spread (metastasized) to distant lymph nodes, bones, or organs such as the lungs, liver or brain.

Grade: The grade of tumor describes how the tumor appears under a microscope. Understanding your cancer at the cellular level and how it will likely grow helps us match you with the best treatment possible.

Kidney Cancer Stage and Grade Chart

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