Kidney Cancer (cont.)
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How is kidney cancer staging determined?
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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:
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 to listen.
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 treatment (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. Do not be afraid to request a second opinion. It should not offend your doctor. This is a serious medical condition and a patient may quite understandable wish to get as much information as possible before consenting to treatments.
There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion:
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:
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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2014
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