Renal cell carcinoma can spread by growing into nearby tissue and traveling through lymph nodes or blood vessels. It most often metastasizes to the lungs, but other common sites include the bones, liver, and lymph nodes.
In RCC, a single tumor usually grows in one kidney. However, two or more tumors can grow in one kidney or in both kidneys simultaneously.
This article looks at how metastatic RCC spreads, how quickly it spreads, and the signs of it spreading. It also looks at the treatment and outlook for metastatic RCC.
RCC develops in the kidneys, where cancer cells grow out of control and form a mass called a tumor.
There are different types of RCC, including clear cell RCC and non-clear cell RCC.
Clear cell RCC is the most common type, and it accounts for
According to the
- growing into nearby tissue
- passing through the walls of nearby blood vessels or lymph nodes
- moving through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other areas of the body
- stopping in small blood vessels in distant areas of the body, growing in the walls of the blood vessels, and invading surrounding tissue
- growing in this tissue until the cells form a tumor
- causing new blood vessels to grow, which supply the metastatic tumor with blood and help it to grow
- lymph nodes
- adrenal glands
How fast RCC spreads varies between individuals.
Factors that can influence the speed of metastasis include:
- The subtype: The subtype of RCC a person has can influence the speed of metastasis.
Most peoplewith metastatic RCC have clear cell subtypes, which tend to be aggressive.
- The grade: The grade of the cancer refers to how closely the cancer cells resemble normal cells. Cancer cells with a higher grade are more likely to grow faster and more aggressively.
- Genetics: Certain genetic mutations
may causefaster metastasis.
- Tumor size: Larger primary tumors may cause RCC to spread more quickly.
The rates of RCC spread differ between people. A
- 0.09 cm per year to 0.86 cm per year
- 0.15 cm per year to 0.31 cm per year
- 8.06 cm per year
The size and extent of the tumor may be an indication of the stage of the cancer. As tumors grow larger, they
Metastatic cancer does not always cause symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may vary depending on the size and location of the metastatic tumors.
According to the
Treatment for metastatic RCC
- Surgery: Surgeons may remove cancerous tissue, where possible, including part of the kidney in a partial nephrectomy, or the entire kidney, in a radical nephrectomy.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy helps a person’s immune system heal the body from illnesses, such as cancer.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapies are medications that target cancer cells and do not affect normal cells. The medications stop cancer from growing and spreading.
Treatment for bone and brain metastases
When RCC has spread to the bones or brain, it may be
Doctors may treat bone metastases with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) drug called cabozantinib. TKIs work by blocking tyrosine kinase enzymes, which stop cancer cells from growing.
Doctors may also treat brain metastases with cabozantinib or with other treatments, which include:
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the 5-year relative survival rate for a person with metastatic RCC is
A person’s outlook can depend on various factors, such as their age and general health, the extent of the cancer, the size of the primary tumor, and the site of the metastases.
People who develop pancreatic or lung metastasis may have a
About one-third of people with renal cell carcinoma experience metastasis.
RCC most often metastasizes to the lungs, bones, and lymph nodes. It also commonly spreads to the liver, adrenal glands, and pancreas.
However, a person may not have symptoms of metastatic RCC. If symptoms do present, they may include shortness of breath when metastases are in the lung, bone pain and fractures when cancer spreads to the bone, and jaundice and swelling in the belly when metastases are in the liver.
Treatment may involve surgery, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.