Renal cancer is responsible for over 100,000 yearly deaths and is principally discovered in computed tomography (CT) scans of the abdomen. CT screening would likely increase the rate of early renal cancer detection, and improve general survival rates, but it is expected to have a prohibitively high financial cost. Given recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), it may be possible to reduce the cost of CT analysis and enable CT screening by automating the radiological tasks that constitute the early renal cancer detection pipeline. This review seeks to facilitate further interdisciplinary research in early renal cancer detection by summarising our current knowledge across AI, radiology, and oncology and suggesting useful directions for future novel work. Initially, this review discusses existing approaches in automated renal cancer diagnosis, and methods across broader AI research, to summarise the existing state of AI cancer analysis. Then, this review matches these methods to the unique constraints of early renal cancer detection and proposes promising directions for future research that may enable AI-based early renal cancer detection via CT screening. The primary targets of this review are clinicians with an interest in AI and data scientists with an interest in the early detection of cancer.