Kidney Cancer Stages

Kidney cancer stages are typically assigned based on the size of a tumor and whether the cancer has invaded other body tissues. The staging process can be a helpful tool for a cancer team because it provides information on the extent to which a cancer has progressed, which is an important consideration when developing an appropriate treatment plan.  In order to determine a cancer’s stage, a physician will generally order a series of examinations and tests, such as bloodwork, imaging tests, biopsies and tissue analyses. The results are then analyzed to establish the extent of the cancer, which in turn helps the patient’s treatment team determine the best approach for addressing the condition. Most kidney cancer staging systems involve a numerical scale. The higher the number, the more advanced the cancer has become. Kidney cancer stages are generally described as follows:

  • Stage 1 – The tumor is no larger than a tennis ball (roughly 3 inches or 7 centimeters), and malignant cells are confined to the kidney.
  • Stage 2 – The tumor is larger than a tennis ball, but the malignant cells are confined to the kidney.
  • Stage 3 – The size of the tumor is not determinative for this stage; malignant cells have spread to at least one nearby lymph node, or the tumor has grown beyond the kidney and invaded nearby blood vessels.
  • Stage 4 – The tumor has grown through the fibrous tissue and layers of fat that surround the kidney, or cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes or other tissues or organs.

Moving Forward

Once it has been determined the stage of your kidney cancer, it’s important to begin the treatment process as soon as possible. This may include surgery, immunotherapy or targeted drugs. Be sure to ask questions about your treatment plan and the potential side effects. You may also want to discuss alternative therapies and if any clinical trials are available to you.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Approach to Kidney Cancer

At Moffitt Cancer Center, you will be evaluated by a multispecialty kidney cancer team, which includes surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other specialists who will thoroughly review your progress as part of a weekly collaborative tumor board. We’ll develop a highly individualized treatment plan that will best combat your cancer while preserving your quality of life. Contact Moffitt Cancer Center at 1-888-663-3488 or by filling out our online new patient registration form to learn more about kidney cancer stages and treatment options. No referral is necessary to meet with the experts in our Urologic Oncology Program.