Kidney Cancer

Information about renal cells cancer, the most common form of kidney cancer in adults.

Several types of cancer can develop in the kidney, the most common of which is renal cell cancer. As kidney cancer grows, it may invade organs near the kidney, such as the liver, colon, or pancreas. Kidney cancer cells may also break away from the original tumor and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. When kidney cancer spreads, cancer cells may appear in the lymph nodes. For this reason, lymph nodes near the kidney may be removed during surgery.

If the pathologist finds cancer cells in the lymph nodes, it may mean that the disease has spread to other parts of the body. Kidney cancer may spread and form new tumors, most often in the bones or lungs. The new tumors have the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the original (primary) tumor in the kidney. For example, if kidney cancer spreads to the lungs, the cancer cells in the lungs are kidney cancer cells. The disease is metastatic kidney cancer; it is not lung cancer.

Preparing for Treatment

Many people with cancer want to learn all they can about the disease and their treatment choices so they can take an active part in decisions about their medical care. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, shock and stress are natural reactions. These feelings may make it difficult to think of everything to ask the doctor. Often, it helps to make a list of questions. To help remember what the doctor says, patients may take notes or ask whether they may use a tape recorder. Some people 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.

People do not need to ask all of their questions or remember all of the answers at one time. Questions may arise throughout the treatment process. Patients and caregivers may ask doctors, nurses, or other members of the health care team to explain things further or to provide more information.

These are some questions a patient may want to ask the doctor before treatment begins:

  • What is the diagnosis?
  • What is the stage of the disease?
  • What is the grade of the disease?
  • What are the treatment choices? Which do you recommend? Why?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • What are the chances that the treatment will be successful?
  • What new treatments are being studied in clinical trials? Would a clinical trial be appropriate?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • Will treatment affect my normal activities? If so, for how long?
  • What is the treatment likely to cost?

Follow-up Care

Regular follow-up by the doctor is important after treatment for kidney cancer. The doctor will suggest appropriate follow-up that may include a physical exam, x-rays, and laboratory tests. The doctor sometimes orders scans and other tests. Patients should continue to have follow-up visits. They should also report any problem as soon as it appears.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from information in the What You Need to Know About™ Cancer series, published by the National Cancer Institute.



You are in the
Diseases
Section
Click for related topics:
Alzheimers
Arthritis
Cancer
Diabetes
Heart Disease, HIV/AIDS 
and more...


Caregivers Handbook

This handy guide provides resources, checklists and worksheets
 - all in one place.