Kidney Cancer Basics: Metastasis


Metastasis is means that spreading of cancer cells or any pathogenic agent from primarily where they first formed to any other parts of the body. In also kidney cancer cases, tumor cells may break away from primary source with different mechanisms and by different pathways, and may form new tumor tissue or mass in other organs in the body.

What is Metastasis?

Metastasis means that cancer cells travel to a region other than the area where they first formed and constitute a new cancer tissue or tumor. In such circumstances, doctors may also use statements such as advanced cancer or stage 4 cancer, while your cancer has metastasized.

If cancer cells formed a tumor close to the area where they primarily arouse, then this is called regional metastasis, while if they formed a cancer tissue in the distant region, then this is called as distant metastasis.

a. Development of Metastases

The word of metastases means multiple metastases. This usually happens when tumor cells are break away from the primary source and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The function of these systems is to carry lymph and blood fluids around the body. For this reason, when tumor cells they have access to almost every region of the body. Therefore, if the cancer cells enter into lymph or blood flow, that is means, they have access to almost all parts of the body.

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In a different scenario, metastases may also occur with regional spread to organs such as liver, lungs, or bones which can be located near the primary tumor.

b. Diagnosis

Even if the primary tumor has metastasized to any part of the body, the cancer will still be named mainly with the primary cancer. For example, if a patient with kidney cancer develops bone metastasis, this patient is mentioned as the diagnosis of kidney cancer with bone metastasis.

If the patient already has a cancer diagnosis, there will be regular check-ups planned for this patient. If a metastasis develops, the diagnosis can be made easily during these regular check-ups.

Apart from this, the diagnosis of primary cancer of the patients can be made with metastasis of this cancer. In other words, when source research is done after the diagnosis of metastasis, primary cancer that causes metastasis can be found.

c. Treatment

Treatment of metastatic cancer varies considerably depending on many factors. Some of these factors include type, origin, the location and the metastasis.

Typically, systemic chemotherapy is used for the treatment of metastatic cancers. Consequently, chemotherapeutic agents can be administered systemically via the bloodstream as a parenteral or oral therapy.

Apart from chemotherapy, treatment options such as radiotherapy, surgery or immunotherapy can also be used. Nowadays, as a result of advances in the field of medicine, good results can be got with personalized treatment programs.

How does Kidney Cancer Metastasis Occurs?

Similar to other cancers, renal cell carcinoma also passes through 3 major stages in the metastasis process.

Kidney cancer is often metastasized to organs and tissues such as lungs, lymph nodes, bones, liver and brain.

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If the growth of metastases in these organs and tissues is uncontrollable, that is means, kidney cancer metastasis can become a serious threat to life by disrupting normal functions.

a. Kidney cancer grows without control

First of all, as contrast to normal cell behavior, cells that grow old need to die, cancer cells increasing their numbers and growing uncontrollably as opposed to the physiology of the body. As a result, cancer cells form a primary tumor tissue.

b. Kidney cancer invades of other tissues

Then, kidney cancer cells continue to grow by invading normal kidney and renal tubule tissue where around them. With time, renal tumor grows enough to invade also the tissues that around the kidney. This means that, invasion of the Gerota’s fascia, surrounding fat tissue or adrenal glands can also be seen.

For more information about Gerota’s fascia and surrounding fat of kidney, you can read:
Kidney Cancer Basics: What is the Kidney?


c. Kidney cancer metastasis that spreads to other parts of the body

Finally, kidney cancer cells may leave the region where they are located and spread to organs and tissues in different parts of the body. Renal cell tumor cells can easily spread to different parts of the body when they entered the bloodstream or lymph system.

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