There are four main stages of kidney cancer. Staging is the method used to determine the extent of the spread of the disease both in the kidneys as well as to other parts of the body.
Every year there are thousands of new people identified suffering with kidney cancer. There are many different types of kidney cancer, however, the most common type is the Renal Cell Cancer (RCC). In this condition, the kidney tubule are affected. It is the same part of the kidney, which filters toxins out of the body, so that they can be thrown out with the urine. It is very much possible that kidney cancer can go undetected, as the symptoms of kidney cancer are not very prominently seen. More often than not kidney cancer is detected, during routine medical evaluation.
Among the common symptoms is pain, either in the flank or in the abdomen or back. In some cases, blood may be seen in the urine, however, it may be in such small quantities, that it may not necessarily be seen. Once a person has been detected, different tests are carried out to ascertain the stages of kidney cancer. The staging tests that are carried out include CT scans, X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, etc. At the same time, the patient will be examined to check, if cancer has spread to other parts of the body as well.
Kidney Cancer Stages
For staging cancer, the TNM method is used, which stands for Tumor-Node-Metastasis system. This system is used because it gives detailed kidney cancer prognosis.
In the first stage of kidney cancer, the cancerous cells are located only within the kidney. They have yet not made their way to the adjacent glands, organs or tissues. The size of the cancer tumor is not more than 7 centimeters. It is the mildest and nascent stage of kidney cancer.
The tumor grows in size and is normally bigger than 7 centimeters, yet it is confined only to the kidneys. It has not affected the lymph nodes or distant organs. It often penetrates to the fatty tissues in the kidney.
The third stage kidney disease can be divided into three sub-stages. In the III A stage, cancer penetrates through the kidney capsule to the fatty tissues surrounding the kidney. In some cases it may also makes it way to the adrenal gland. The III B and III C are the advanced stages, where the disease often makes its way either to the renal vein or into the vena cava. In stage III B, the tumor thrombus is does not spread above the level of the diaphragm.
On the other hand in III C, the tumor thrombus does make its way above the level of the diaphragm. In this stage, the lymph nodes and blood vessels, which surround the kidney may be affected. In some cases, the tumor can grow to any size and is confined only to the kidney and make its way to one or more than one lymph nodes. There are some other cases, where cancer affects the main blood carriers or in the fatty tissue, that surround the kidney. At the same time, it may also reach the lymph nodes.
If cancer has reached this stage, then it means that cancer has metastasized and spread to distant organs, as well as organs located close by. Often cancer spreads outside the fatty tissue layer and may have made its way to the adrenal gland and also to the lymph nodes close by. In some cases, cancer may spread to the other organs like the liver, bones, lungs, brain and to lymph nodes as well.
The kidney cancer treatment depends on the stage of kidney cancer. It is seen that in 40% of the kidney cancer patients, cancer is limited to the kidneys and surgery is the method adopted to treat the condition. As many as 90% of the times, the surgery is successful. If cancer has made its way out of the kidney, the chances of curing the disease depends on the spread of the disease. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, etc., are some of the treatment methods, which can be used for treating kidney cancer.