Making an educated treatment decision begins with determining the stage, or progression, of the disease. The stage of kidney cancer is one of the most important factors in evaluating treatment options. Our cancer doctors use a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate kidney cancer and develop an individualized treatment plan. If you have been recently diagnosed, we will review your pathology to confirm you have received the correct diagnosis and staging information and develop a personalized treatment plan. If you have a recurrence, we will perform comprehensive testing and identify a treatment approach that is suited to your needs.
Kidney cancer is staged using The American Joint Committee on Cancer"s (AJCC) TNM system, a commonly accepted method based on three key components:
T (tumor): This describes the size of the original tumor.
N (node): This indicates whether the cancer is present in the lymph nodes.
M (metastasis): This refers to whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
A number (0-4) or the letter X is assigned to each factor. A higher number indicates increasing severity. For instance, a T1 score indicates a smaller tumor than a T2 score. The letter X means the information could not be assessed.
Once the T, N and M scores have been assigned, an overall cancer stage is assigned. The stages of kidney cancer are:
Stage I (stage 1 kidney cancer): The kidney cancer tumor is small (7 cm or less across) and limited to the kidney.
Stage II (stage 2 kidney cancer): The tumor has grown larger but still remains within the kidney. There is no evidence of spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
Stage III (stage 3 kidney cancer): The kidney tumor has grown beyond the kidney and may now extend into the adrenal glands or nearby tissues or organs. The cancer may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV (stage 4 kidney cancer): The tumor may be any size and has grown beyond the kidney. The cancer may have spread to lymph nodes or distant sites like the liver, lung or bladder.
Next topic: How is kidney cancer diagnosed?