Kidney Cancer (cont.)
Treatment for kidney cancer
To plan the best treatment, the doctor needs to know the stage (extent) of
the disease. The stage is based on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has
spread and, if so, to what parts of the body.
Staging may involve imaging tests such as an ultrasound or a CT scan. The
doctor also may use an MRI. For this test, a powerful magnet linked to a
computer makes detailed pictures of organs and blood vessels.
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
- 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
- The tumor extends beyond the fibrous tissue that surrounds the
- Cancer cells are found in more than one nearby lymph node; or
cancer has spread to other places in the body such as the lungs.
cancer is cancer that has come back (recurred) after treatment. It may come back
in the kidney or in another part of the body.
Many people with kidney cancer want to take an active part in making
decisions about their medical care. They want to learn all they can about their
disease and their treatment choices. However, shock and stress after the
diagnosis can make it hard to think of everything they want to ask the doctor.
It often helps to make a list of questions before an appointment. To help
remember what the doctor says, people may take notes or ask whether they may use
a tape recorder. Some also want to have a family member or friend with them when
they talk to the doctor-to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just
The doctor may refer the patient to a specialist, or the patient may ask for
a referral. Specialists who treat kidney cancer include doctors who specialize
in diseases of the urinary system (urologists) and doctors who specialize in
cancer (medical oncologists and radiation oncologists).
Getting a second opinion
Before starting treatment, a person with kidney cancer might want a second
opinion about the diagnosis and the treatment plan. Some insurance companies
require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if the patient or
doctor requests it.
There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion:
- The patient's doctor may refer the patient to one or
more specialists. At cancer centers, several specialists often work together
as a team.
- The Cancer Information Service, at 1-800-4-CANCER,
can tell callers about nearby treatment centers.
- A local or state medical society, a nearby hospital,
or a medical school can usually provide the names of specialists.
- The American Board of
Medical Specialties (ABMS) offers a list of doctors who have met specific
education and training requirements and have passed a specialty examination.
Their directory-the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical
Specialists-lists doctors' names along with their specialty and their
educational background. The directory is available in most public libraries.
Also, ABMS offers this information by telephone and on the Internet. The
toll-free telephone number is 1-866-ASK-ABMS (1-866-275-2267). The Internet
address is http://www.abms.org.
Preparing for treatment
Treatment depends mainly on the stage of disease and the patient's general
health and age. The doctor can describe treatment choices and discuss the
expected results. The doctor and patient can work together to develop a
treatment plan that fits the patient's needs.
|People may want to ask the doctor these questions before treatment begins:
- What is the stage of the disease? Has the
cancer spread? If so, where?
- What are my treatment choices? Which do you
recommend for me? Will I have more than one kind of treatment?
- What are the expected benefits of each kind of
treatment? Will it cure or control the disease?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of
each treatment? Will I be given anything to control side effects?
- How long will treatment last?
- Will I have to stay in the hospital?
- What is the treatment likely to cost? Is this
treatment covered by my insurance plan?
- How will treatment affect my normal activities?
- How often should I have checkups?
- Would a clinical trial (research study) be appropriate for me?
People do not need to ask all their questions or understand all the answers
at once. They will have other chances to ask the doctor to explain things that
are not clear and to ask for more information.
Viewers share their comments
Kidney Cancer - Symptoms
Question: What were your symptoms of kidney cancer?
Kidney Cancer - Prognosis
Question: What is the prognosis for your kidney cancer?
Kidney Cancer - Treatment
Question: What was the treatment for your kidney cancer?
Kidney Cancer - Risk Factors
Question: What risk factors did you or someone you know have for kidney cancer?
Kidney Cancer - Diagnosis
Question: How was your kidney cancer diagnosed?
Kidney Cancer - Follow-up Care
Question: What type of follow-up care have you, a friend, or relative received for kidney cancer?