Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer forms in tissues of the kidneys. Kidney cancer includes renal cell carcinoma (cancer that forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products) and renal pelvis carcinoma (cancer that forms in the center of the kidney where urine collects). It also includes Wilms tumor, which is a type of kidney cancer that usually develops in children under the age of 5.

Several types of cancer can start in the kidney. The following information is about renal cell cancer, the most common type of kidney cancer in adults. This type is sometimes called renal adenocarcinoma or hypernephroma. Another type of cancer, transitional cell carcinoma, affects the renal pelvis. It is similar to bladder cancer and is often treated like bladder cancer. When kidney cancer spreads outside the kidney, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes. Kidney cancer also may spread to the lungs, bones, or liver. Also, kidney cancer can spread from one kidney to the other.

 

Staging of Kidney Cancer:

 

Doctors describe kidney cancer by the following stages:

Stage I is an early stage of kidney cancer. The tumor measures up to 2 3/4 inches (7 centimeters). It is no bigger than a tennis ball. The cancer cells are found only in the kidney.

Stage II is also an early stage of kidney cancer, but the tumor measures more than 2 3/4 inches. The cancer cells are found only in the kidney.

Stage III is one of the following:

  • The tumor does not extend beyond the kidney, but cancer cells have spread through the lymphatic system to one nearby lymph node; or

  • The tumor has invaded the adrenal gland or the layers of fat and fibrous tissue that surround the kidney, but cancer cells have not spread beyond the fibrous tissue. Cancer cells may be found in one nearby lymph node; or

  • The cancer cells have spread from the kidney to a nearby large blood vessel. Cancer cells may be found in one nearby lymph node.

Stage IV is one of the following:

  • The tumor extends beyond the fibrous tissue that surrounds the kidney; or
  • Cancer cells are found in more than one nearby lymph node; or
  • The cancer has spread to other places in the body such as the lungs.

 

Treatment of Kidney Cancer:

 

People with kidney cancer may have surgery, arterial embolization, radiation therapy, biological therapy, or chemotherapy. Some may have a combination of treatments. A patient may want to talk to the doctor about taking part in a clinical trial, a research study of new treatment methods.

Search for clinical trials in Georgia.

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/kidney/page1. (Accessed July 2016)