As abdominal scans are now very common, early kidney cancer is usually detected incidentally when a scan is performed to investigate another abdominal complaint. The mainstay of treatment is still surgery although it is dependent on the size and characteristics of the tumour. Treatment varies from close observation only to chemotherapy for advanced disease.
Abnormal Kidney Scans
A common referral to a urologist is an abnormal kidney scan. This is usually detected because of scanning of the abdomen for another reason, such as abdominal pain. Kidney cysts and concerns regarding kidney cancer are the most common abnormality, but a dilated kidney including pelvi-ureteric junction (PUJ) obstruction is also discussed. Kidney stones are covered in another section.
Generally, an ultrasound or CT of the abdomen is the reason that the kidney abnormality is detected. A GP or urologist may request focussed scans to look at the kidney specifically. Occasionally if even further information is required, an MRI or nuclear medicine scan can be helpful.
Simple kidney cysts are so common that the majority of the population over 50 have them. Generally, they are of no clinical consequence, but can be a cause of concern as they are commonly reported. Sometimes, the cysts may not look regular and the obvious concern is whether there is an underlying kidney cancer. These are generally rare however, and slightly complicated cysts are generally monitored only.