Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located behind the abdominal organs, with one of each side of the spine. The kidneys play an important role in removing waste, excess fluid, and electrolytes from the blood. They are also responsible for producing hormones that contribute to the production of red blood cells that control blood pressure.
Kidney cancer starts in the kidney and spreads to other parts of the body if left untreated. However, if cancer begins in another organ and later spreads to kidneys, it is not considered kidney cancer.
The stages of kidney cancer and their treatments include the following:
1. Stages of kidney cancer
The result of the diagnostic tests for kidney cancer can reveal the stage it is at. This basically determines the extent to which cancer has metastasized, which helps the doctors to decide on medications and other treatments.
Kidney cancer is categorized into 4 stages, which are as follows:
- Stage 1
At this stage, the cancer is just formed and an individual has the survival rate for 5 years. The size of the tumour is very small at this stage and can be seen in just one kidney. Its growth is restricted to the kidney and it has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes.
- Stage 2
Stage 2 is more aggressive than stage 1. At this stage, the tumor tends to be bigger than 7cm. The cancer is still restricted to the kidneys at this stage and the tumor can be easily removed.
- Stage 3
The condition gets severe at this stage as cancer has begun to spread to nearby tissues and major veins. However, it has not reached the lymph nodes.
- Stage 4
This is the last stage of kidney cancer, wherein it has spread to faraway tissues and lymph nodes. The tumor has also spread to other organs, both near and distant and are slowly preventing them from functioning properly. The chances of a complete cure at this stage are rare and treatment usually focuses on palliative care.
The surgery for kidney cancer is categorized into 2 types.
In this procedure, the entire kidney along with a portion of healthy tissue and sometimes nearby lymph nodes are removed.
- Partial nephrectomy
In this case, only the infected part is removed, along with a small part of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
- Non-surgical treatments
This type of treatment is done on patients with small tumors. The treatment is of 2 types, which are as follows.
This procedure is done by inserting a special needle through the skin and into the tumor, and cold gas is passed down this needle to freeze and kill the cancer cells.
- Radiofrequency ablation
The kidney tumors are burnt down with the help of a probe passed through the skin.
- Other treatment methods for severe cancer and recurrent cancer include the following:
- Biological therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Clinical trials
- Radiation therapy