Kidney cancer is a serious life-threatening medical condition in which abnormal cancer cells grow and multiply in one or both kidneys, sometimes spreading into other areas of the body. There are four basic kidney cancer stages, and determining the stage is vital when deciding upon the most appropriate treatment options. In stages one and two, the cancer is isolated to the kidney itself. Kidney cancer stages three and four involve the kidney as well as surrounding tissues or lymph nodes and may even spread to other organs throughout the body.
The earliest kidney cancer stages are stages one and two. In stage one, the tumor is no larger than a tennis ball, about seven centimeters. There are no cancer cells found outside of the affected kidney. Stage two is similar, except that the tumor is larger than seven centimeters. The tumor is still located only within the kidney itself. These kidney cancer stages are the easiest to treat, and surgical intervention to remove the tumors is often all that is necessary.
Stage three is one of the more complicated kidney cancer stages. In some cases, the cancerous tumor is still confined to the kidney, although some of the cancerous cells may have made their way into the surrounding lymph glands. In other cases, the tumor may spread into the nearby adrenal gland and may also be found in one lymph gland. Another possible scenario with stage three kidney cancer is that the cancer spreads from the kidney into one of the large blood vessels, often affecting one lymph node as well.
Stage four is the most dangerous of all the kidney cancer stages. In this stage, the cancer may move through the kidney as well as the fibrous tissue which surrounds the kidney. It is also possible for the cancer to move into several surrounding lymph nodes instead of just one lymph node. In the most severe cases, the cancer may spread to other organs of the body.
Each of the kidney cancer stages requires individualized treatment. The most common types of treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Some patients may qualify for clinical trials in which new experimental drugs are used in an attempt to treat the disease. Any questions or concerns about the various kidney cancer stages or the most appropriate treatment options in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.