Advertisement

What Does it Mean to "Stage" or "Grade" a Tumor?

Kidney Cancer Stage 1
Kidney Cancer Stage 1
Cancer Research UK

Kidney Cancer Stage 2
Kidney Cancer Stage 2
Cancer Research UK

Kidney Cancer Stage 3
Kidney Cancer Stage 3
Cancer Research UK

Kidney Cancer Stage 4
Kidney Cancer Stage 4
Cancer Research UK

For more information on the TNM system and kidney cancer staging, click here.

After the type of kidney cancer cells are defined, the cells are "staged" and "graded". The stage of a solid tumor refers to its size or extent and whether or not it has spread to other organs and tissues. The grade of a tumor is an indication of how quickly it is likely to grow and spread. In general, low-grade tumors grow slowly and higher-grade tumors grow more rapidly.

A carefully diagnosed grade and stage will help your health care team find the best treatment.

Renal cancer cells are also defined in other ways.

Wilms' tumors are split into 2 types:

  • Favorable
  • Unfavorable

"Unfavorable" types do not respond well to standard chemotherapy. RCC that occurs later in childhood does not respond well to chemotherapy, for example. This is important information for planning treatment.

Also important for planning treatment, is learning exactly where the cancer cells are found. If the tumor is only in the kidney, then it can be removed fully with surgery. This is vital for those who have unfavorable microscopic cancer cells.

General stages for kidney cancer are:

  • Stage I: Tumor only in the kidney
  • Stage II: Tumor in the kidney with some local spread, tumor in kidney vein
  • Stage III: Local lymph nodes show kidney cancer
  • Stage IV: Kidney cancer spread to lung, liver, bone or brain
  • Stage V: Bilateral tumor – tumors on both kidneys