What is Metastatic Renal Cancer?

Page content

About Metastatic Cancer

Advance cancers, or stage IV cancers, are frequently capable of spreading to other parts of the body. This occurs when cancer cells from the primary organ, the organ where the cancer originally developed, enter the blood circulation or the lymphatic system and travel through various parts of the body. These cancer cells can then form a new tumor or a new growth in another organ or tissue. This growth is called a metastatic cancer, and the appearance of these cancer cells, when examined under the microscope by a pathologist, are often similar to the ones present in the primary tumor.

Causes

A cancer that originated from another part of the body may spread into the kidney or renal tissues and cause metastatic renal cancer. Examples of these cancers include breast cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, stomach cancer, intestinal cancer and pancreatic cancer. Some cases of lymphoma and leukemia can also metastasize to the kidney.

Symptoms

Common non-specific symptoms observed in patients with any form of cancer are unexplained loss of weight, frequent fatigue, weakness and sometimes, mood changes. Since most cancers that are capable of spreading to other parts of the body are already in their advance stage, signs and symptoms of metastatic kidney cancer are usually associated with the primary cancer patients are suffering from. When the cause was due to lung cancer, patients may present with persistent lung infection, bloody sputum, chest pain and breathing problems. Symptoms related to the kidneys are usually rare, and results of renal function tests may not have any changes. Patients may also not present with proteinuria, which is the presence of protein in the urine.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Metastatic kidney cancer is sometimes found through the use of abdominal imaging tests, while patients are being evaluated for their primary cancer. Some are even found incidentally while undergoing abdominal imaging for a different medical condition. In these cases when no primary tumor is found, patients may have to undergo further testing for diagnosis.

Most patients with cancer are often managed by a team of physicians. These include the oncologist, a cancer specialist; in this case the nephrologist, one who specializes in kidney diseases; the pulmonologist, a lung specialist in case the primary is a lung cancer; and sometimes, the surgeon, when an operation is needed for treatment. The treatment frequently given to patients with metastatic renal cancer is with the use of systemic therapy which targets the primary cancer in the body. Management of most patients with metastatic cancer is often dependent on the age of the patient, his general health condition, the size of the cancer, the type of secondary organ affected, and the cancer of origin.

References

MERCK Manuals: Metastatic Renal Cancer

Healthtree.com: Metastasis of Kidney Cancer