Metastatic kidney cancer is a malignancy that starts in the kidneys and invades other structures in the body. At the early stage, it may penetrate neighboring structures first, but advanced metastatic kidney cancer can spread to more remote locations, like the brain. This condition can be difficult to treat and may require an oncologist and medical consultants like nephrologists for the best level of care. The prognosis varies depending on the type of cancer, the patient's health, and the degree of metastasis.
One of the most common forms of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma. When the cancer spreads, it can reach the nearby lymph nodes as well as the lungs and the liver. Further abroad, it may penetrate the brain and the bones. Patients with metastatic kidney cancer may have symptoms like fatigue, bone pain, changes in urinary output, and nausea. Medical imaging will show the tissue changes inside the body, and a doctor can also request a biopsy. Sometimes the metastatic cancer is found first, and the doctor must trace it back to the source.
When metastatic kidney cancer spreads, it is still known as kidney cancer, no matter where it shows up, because the cells are from the original tumor in the kidneys. For example, metastatic kidney cancer of the lungs is not lung cancer, because the tumors do not contain lung cells. Treatment options can include surgery if a tumor is operable, along with chemotherapy and radiation to kill cancer cells. The doctor will monitor the response to treatment with more medical imaging and other tools like blood tests to check for hormone changes associated with cancer.
A patient with primary kidney cancer that does not respond to treatment may experience a metastatic form. The condition can also spread after it appears to have gone into remission. In these cases, some cancer cells remain active despite treatment and begin growing again when the patient is no longer receiving medical treatment. These cells may spread to new areas of the body and could pop up unexpectedly.
Patients with a metastatic kidney cancer diagnosis may be concerned and nervous about the condition. It is important to get information from the doctor to make an informed decision about treatment. The doctor can discuss the kind of cancer, the treatment options, and the prognosis. Patients may also want to consider asking about clinical trial eligibility, as they may be able to access new treatments like medications that are still under development.