There are several types of kidney cancer. The most common form of the disease is called renal cell carcinoma. This type accounts for about 85 percent of all cases.

Cancer of the kidney occurs most often in people between the ages of 50 and 70 and is nearly twice as common in men as in women. Kidney tumors that are discovered early often respond well to treatment and kidney cancer survival rates are generally high.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor (e.g., oncologist, urologist, nephrologist) about kidney cancer. Print this page, mark the questions you would like to have answered, and bring it with you to your next appointment. The more you know about kidney cancer, the easier it will be to work with your oncology team to develop a cancer treatment plan.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Kidney Cancer

  • Why do you suspect that I have kidney cancer?
  • What other conditions might be causing kidney cancer symptoms?
  • What types of tests will be performed to confirm or rule out kidney cancer?
  • What do kidney cancer tests involve?
  • How should I prepare for these diagnostic tests?
  • What type of kidney biopsy will be performed?
  • What does kidney biopsy involve?
  • What type of kidney cancer do I have?
  • What is my kidney cancer stage?
  • What is the usual prognosis for patients with this type and stage of kidney cancer?
  • Do you recommend I get a second opinion before starting cancer treatment? Why or why not?
  • Who will be the members of my oncology team?
  • What are the kidney cancer treatment options available at this time?
  • What type of treatments do you recommend?
  • What are the benefits, disadvantages, and risks associated with this treatment?
  • What can I expect in terms of quality of life during treatment?
  • What does chemotherapy involve?
  • What does radiation therapy involve?
  • What does kidney cancer surgery involve? What type of procedure will be performed?
  • How can I expect to feel after surgery? How long is the typical recovery period?
  • How will we know if treatment is working?
  • How will my condition be monitored during treatment?
  • What kinds of side effects are associated with kidney cancer treatment?
  • How will these side effects be managed?
  • What should I do if I experience severe side effects related to my treatment, if my symptoms worsen, or if new symptoms develop? Telephone number to call:
  • Are there complementary and alternative kidney cancer treatments available?
  • Once I have completed treatment, how often will I see the doctor for follow-ups?
  • How likely is it that the cancer will return?
  • How can I help prevent a recurrence?
  • Do you recommend that I participate in a clinical trial for patients with kidney cancer? Why or why not?
  • What can I expect in terms of quality of life during cancer treatment?
  • Can you recommend a local or online support group for kidney cancer patients?
  • Can you recommend a support group for family members of kidney cancer patients?
  • Can you recommend any resources for additional information about kidney cancer?
  • Next Appointment: Doctor: Date: Time:

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Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 25 May 2009

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015