Preparing for your appointment

You'll likely start by seeing your primary care doctor if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor suspects you may have kidney cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract diseases and conditions (urologist) or to a doctor who treats cancer (oncologist).

Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be hard to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.

What you can do

At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. Then make a list of:

  • Symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • All medications (prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, herbs or other supplements that you're taking
  • Questions to ask your doctor

List your questions from most to least important in case time runs out. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Do I have kidney cancer?
  • If so, has my cancer spread beyond my kidney?
  • Will I need more tests?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the potential side effects of each treatment?
  • Can my kidney cancer be cured?
  • How will cancer treatment affect my daily life?
  • Is there one treatment option you feel is best for me?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask additional questions that may occur to you during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them so you'll have time to cover any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
Aug. 15, 2017
References
  1. NCCN Guidelines Version 2.2017: Kidney cancer. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 2016.
  2. Atkins MG. Clinical manifestations, evaluation, and staging of renal cell carcinoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  3. American Cancer Society. What is kidney cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/about/what-is-kidney-cancer.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  4. American Cancer Society. Causes, risk factors, and prevention. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/causes-risks-prevention.html. Accessed Feb 8, 2017.
  5. Ho TH, et al. Genetic kidney cancer syndromes. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 2014;12:1347.
  6. Fay AP, et al. Whole-exome sequencing in two extreme phenotypes of response to VEGF-targeted therapies in patients with metastatic clear cell renal carcinoma. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 2016;14:820.
  7. Drugs approved for kidney (renal cell) cancer. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/drugs/kidney. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  8. Kardos SV, et al. Association of type of renal surgery and access to robotic technology for kidney cancer: Results from a population-based cohort. BJU International. 2014;114:549.
  9. George S, et al. Safety and efficacy of nivolumab in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated beyond progression: A subgroup analysis of a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncology. 2016;2:1179.
  10. Atkins MG. Overview of the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  11. American Cancer Society. What are the key statistics about kidney cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  12. American Cancer Society. Kidney cancer: Early detection, diagnosis, and staging. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  13. American Cancer Society. Treating kidney cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/treating.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2017.
  14. Ho, TH (expert answer). Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Ariz. Feb. 11, 2017.
  15. National Institutes of Health. NIH clinical research trials and you. https://www.nih.gov/health-information/nih-clinical-research-trials-you. Accessed March 13, 2017.
  16. Leibovich, BC (expert answer). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 30, 2017.
  17. Richie JP, et al. Role of surgery in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 16, 2017.