Understanding Kidney Cancer
What Are the Stages of Kidney Cancer?
Your prognosis depends on your general health, as well as the grade and stage of your kidney cancer.
These are the stages of kidney cancer. The higher the stage, the more advanced the cancer.
- A tumor 7 centimeters or smaller that is only in the kidney
- A tumor larger than 7 centimeters that is only in the kidney
- A tumor that is in the kidney and in at least one nearby lymph node
- A tumor that is in the kidney's main blood vessel and may also be in nearby lymph node
- A tumor that is in the fatty tissue around the kidney and may also involve nearby lymph nodes
- A tumor that extends into major veins or perinephric tissues, but not into the ipsilateral adrenal gland and not beyond Gerota's fascia
What Are the Treatments for Kidney Cancer?
Once you have a diagnosis and know your stage of kidney cancer, you and your doctor can plan treatment. You may want to gather information to help you feel more informed about your decision. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for treatment. This could include an urologist, a medical or radiation oncologist, or a surgeon. Before beginning treatment, many people find it helpful to get a second opinion about the diagnosis of kidney cancer and the treatment plan.
Kidney cancer is one of the more common cancers to undergo spontaneous remission. However, the incidence is quite low (approximately 0.5%).
There are several standard types of treatment for kidney cancer. In most cases, surgery is the first step. Even if surgery removes the entire tumor, though, your doctor may suggest an extra treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells that can't be seen.
Surgery for kidney cancer
These are the main types of surgery for kidney cancer. Which type you have depends on how advanced your cancer is.
- Radical nephrectomy removes the kidney, adrenal gland, and surrounding tissue. It also often removes nearby lymph nodes. It is the most common surgery for kidney cancer and can now be done through a small incision with a laparoscope.
- Simple nephrectomy removes the kidney only.
- Partial nephrectomy removes the cancer in the kidney along with some tissue around it. This procedure is used for patients with smaller tumors (less than 4 cm) or in those patients in which a radical nephrectomy might hurt the other kidney.
You can survive with just a part of one kidney as long as it is still working. If the surgeon removes both kidneys or if both kidneys are not working, you will need a machine to clean your blood (dialysis) or a new kidney (kidney transplant). A transplant is possible if your cancer was found only in your kidney and a donated kidney is available.