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Metastasize (spread) kidney cancer

Like any type of cancer, kidney cancer can spread beyond its original location. This does not always occur, but when it does, the condition is known as metastatic kidney cancer.

In most cases, the term "metastatic kidney cancer" is used to refer to cancer that has spread to distant organs, such as the:

  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Bones
  • Skin
  • Brain
  • Adrenal glands

This is also referred to as stage 4 kidney cancer.

Sometimes, however, the term "metastatic kidney cancer" can also be used to refer to cancer that has spread to tissues, lymph nodes, veins and blood vessels outside of the kidneys, even if it has not reached any distant organs. This is considered to be stage 3 kidney cancer.

Treatment for metastatic kidney cancer

Treatment for metastatic kidney cancer is somewhat different than treatment for nonmetastatic kidney cancer. When cancer has not spread outside of the kidneys, surgery is often recommended to remove the tumor and some surrounding tissues. While surgery is sometimes recommended for kidney cancers that have spread to a single location, systemic treatments are more commonly recommended instead for cancers that have metastasized.

Systemic treatments can destroy cancerous cells that have separated from the original tumor and spread throughout the body. As a result, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy are some of the most common treatment options for metastatic kidney cancer.

Sometimes, clinical trials are recommended as well. These studies allow participants to access the newest therapies before those options are made widely available in other settings. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with late-stage kidney cancer, who may have already tried quite a few other options.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, you can turn to Moffitt Cancer Center for comprehensive treatment. Call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment. No referral is required.