Diagnosing Kidney Cancer

This information is useful for adults
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Kidney, or renal, cancer can occur in one or both kidneys. It strikes men more often than women, and is rarely found in people younger than 45 years old, says Adebowale Adeniran, MD, associate professor of pathology and director of cytopathology at Yale School of Medicine Medicine. About 14,200 men and women in the United States die from the disease each year. Pathological findings play an important role in diagnosing and identifying the most effective treatments for all kinds of renal cancer. Yale Medicine’s Department of Pathology offers expertise in this area.

Kidney cancer, also called renal cancer, is far more common in industrialized countries than less-developed ones. This is due in part to environmental factors including smoking, obesity and exposure to specific chemicals. “Symptoms can be vague, but most patients present with blood in the urine,” Dr. Adeniran says. “A significant proportion also have flank pain and, in cases where the cancer is advanced, fever and weight loss are common, too.”

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, which affects the tiny tubes (tubules) through which the kidneys filter blood. There are several types of renal cell carcinoma. “In the pathology department, our role is not only to determine whether a mass is cancerous or noncancerous,” Dr. Adeniran says. “For cancerous ones, we also need to be able to identify the type of malignancy we are looking at.”

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.