Knowing what type of kidney cancer you have

To determine the type, stage and grade of your tumour, it is necessary to send a sample of it to a pathology lab for testing. For the test, the tumour can either be biopsied (a sample of the tumour is removed without surgery) or surgically removed (by nephrectomy or partial nephrectomy). Then the pathology result will tell you what kind of cancer, if any, you have.

Different family members who have BHD syndrome may have different types of kidney tumours. For example, one may have a papillary tumour and another may have an oncocytoma. You won’t be able to tell what type of cancer you have by looking at another family member’s pathology results.

Second opinion on kidney pathology

If the first pathology result is not clear, you may want to ask that a section of your tumour be sent to a different lab for a second opinion (with details given below). To guard against incorrect identification, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion on your pathology.

If you are in the United States, you can request that a test be done at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, at no cost to you. It is best that your doctor or pathology lab ask for this test, as often the lab will prefer that you not arrange it yourself.

For more information, contact:

Maria J. Merino-Neumann, M.D.
Head, Surgical Pathology Section
Building 10
Room 2N212
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: 301-496-2441



Publication date: September 2012
Review date: September 2015