What does staging mean?

Staging is a way of classifying cancer so that you and your healthcare team understand how far the cancer has progressed. The cancer stage describes the tumour size and tells whether it has spread beyond the place in the kidney where it started to grow.

There are many different treatments for kidney cancer. Knowing the stage helps your doctor determine the best approach to treatment.

The following staging system tells you:

  • how large the tumour is
  • if cancer cells have spread
  • how far and where cancer cells have spread.


What each stage means

Stage I is a fairly small tumour of 7 cm or smaller that has not spread beyond the kidney.

Stage II is a tumour larger than 7 cm that has not spread beyond the kidney.

Stage III is a tumour that has grown beyond the kidney (e.g., to the fatty tissue that surrounds the kidney) and/or cancer cells that have entered 1 lymph node or veins that drain the kidney.

Cancer cells have spread to other organs (e.g., lungs, liver, bone) and/or cancer cells have spread to multiple (2 or more) lymph nodes.

This stage is called metastatic kidney cancer and presence of kidney cancer in other organs or parts of the body are called metastases.

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