Once your health care provider knows you have cancer, the next step is to find out the grade and stage of the cancer. Stage is a way to note the size of the tumor, and if it has spread. Grade is a way to note how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope. Staging and grading of cancer is important for deciding how to treat it, and how curable it is.
The grade refers to how the cancer cells look when compared to normal kidney cells. The grade of your cancer will help your health care provider predict how fast the cancer may grow and spread. The Furhman scale of 1 to 4 is used to grade kidney cancer. The lower the number, the more the cancer cells look like normal cells. This means the cancer can be more easy to treat and cure. This is because cancer cells that look more like normal cells tend to grow and spread slowly. Grade 4 cancer look very different from normal kidney cells. This grade of cancer is harder to treat.
The stage of your cancer describes the size of a tumor, and how much it has spread. Health care providers use different rating systems to stage cancer. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system is used most often for kidney cancer. It’s called the TNM system.
Numbers from 0 to 4 are assigned to the T, N, and M categories. Once your health care provider has determined your T, N, and M values, he or she then determines your stage grouping. The lower numbers mean smaller cancers and that are easier to treat and cure. Here are the 4 stages of kidney cancer:
Stage I. The cancer is found only in the kidney. It is 7 centimeters (cm) (about 2.75 inches) or less in diameter.
Stage II. The cancer is found only in the kidney. The tumor is larger than 7 cm in diameter.
Stage III. In this stage, 1 of the following is true:
Stage IV. In this stage, one of the following is true:
Recurrent. Recurrent cancer has come back after it has been treated. It may come back in the original area. Or it may come back in another part of the body.
When your cancer is staged, your health care provider will talk with you about what the stage means for your treatment. Make sure to ask any questions or talk about your concerns.
April 01, 2016
Knoble, Jeanna, MD [nM], Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS