Renal Cell Carcinoma: Diagnosis and Management

Am Fam Physician. 2019 Feb 1;99(3):179-184.


Kidney cancer is one of the 10 most common cancers in the United States with 90% being attributed to renal cell carcinoma. Men, especially black men, are more likely to be affected than women. Renal masses, either cystic or solid, are best detected with contrast-enhanced, triple-phase computed tomography. Renal tumors are often detected incidentally during a computed tomography scan of the abdomen or chest that was ordered for unrelated symptoms. Hematuria serves as a warning sign that necessitates further evaluation and imaging leading to a diagnosis and treatment plan. Treatment options include active surveillance, ablation, nephron-sparing tumor excision, nephrectomy, and systemic treatment. Predictors of a poor prognosis include poor functional status and metastasis. In recent years new therapies have improved the prognosis for patients with metastatic disease. The family physician should be aware of risk factors (e.g., hypertension, tobacco use, exposure to trichloroethylene, familial syndromes) and lifestyle and dietary modifications that may reduce risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Hematuria / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed