Kidney cancer occurs when cancerous cells in the kidney begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably. The extent of this spread determines the disease’s stage. Stage 2 is an early phase of kidney cancer in which the cancerous cells remain in the kidney.

Kidney cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. It typically occurs in older individuals and is almost twice as common in males than in females. Additionally, it is more common among American Indians, Alaska Natives, and African Americans.

People who smoke, misuse pain medications, or have a family history of kidney cancer may have a higher risk of developing this disease. A person may also have other risk factors for the condition, such as high blood pressure.

The stages of kidney cancer range from stage 1 to stage 4, with the latter being the most severe.

This article explores stage 2 kidney cancer, from its symptoms to treatment options. It also discusses how healthcare professionals stage the condition.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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When healthcare professionals determine the stage of a person’s kidney cancer they can better develop an effective treatment plan. The four stages of kidney cancer include:

  • Stage 1: Located in the kidney, the tumor is no larger than 7 centimeters (cm).
  • Stage 2: This is when the tumor is larger than 7 cm and remains in the kidney. Alternatively, the tumor may be growing into a major vein or into tissue surrounding the kidney but not growing into the adrenal glands or beyond Gerota’s fascia into the lymph nodes or distant organs. Gerota’s fascia is a tissue that surrounds the kidneys and adrenal glands.
  • Stage 3: This describes when cancer is growing into the nearby lymph nodes, in addition to the main tumor within the kidney.
  • Stage 4: This is when the main tumor may have grown outside of the kidney or into the adrenal glands, and the cancer may have spread to lymph nodes and other distant organs.

After an individual receives a kidney cancer diagnosis, they will undergo testing to determine what stage their cancer is in. Healthcare professionals use different tests to identify the stage of a person’s kidney cancer, which may include:

These tests may show whether cancer has spread from the kidney to other parts of the body. They may also indicate whether cancer cells are spreading through the bloodstream or lymph nodes.

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In stage 2 kidney cancer, the tumor is larger than 7 cm. In some people, the tumor may have grown into a major vein or tissue surrounding the kidney. However, the tumor still remains within the Gerota’s fascia and has not spread to the adrenal glands or other parts of the body.

The symptoms of stage 2 kidney cancer differ between individuals and depend on the size and location of the tumor. Some individuals with stage 2 kidney cancer may not experience any symptoms. Others may experience symptoms, such as:

Individuals who notice any of these symptoms should visit a medical professional to learn more. A doctor can provide a full evaluation and recommend testing to determine the presence and stage of kidney cancer.

The duration of stage 2 kidney cancer depends on the individual. Some people may progress quickly to stage 3. Other people may remain in stage 2 for some time, or they may make a full recovery.

Most people in the early stages of kidney cancer respond well to surgery. According to data based on people who were diagnosed with kidney cancer between 2011–2017, the 5-year relative survival rate for people with localized kidney cancer is 93%. The overall 5-year relative survival rate for people with kidney cancer at all stages is 76%.

At first, a doctor may recommend waiting and monitoring people with small kidney tumors. People would receive regular imaging tests to monitor the tumor and only begin treatment if it begins to grow.

However, most individuals with stage 2 kidney cancer undergo surgery to treat their cancer. Surgery may involve a partial nephrectomy, a procedure in which a surgeon removes certain portions of the kidney.

Others may receive a radical nephrectomy, where a surgeon completely removes a kidney. If lymph nodes around the kidney are also affected, a surgeon may choose to remove these as well.

Some people may not be able to have kidney surgery because of other health conditions. Alternative treatments may include cryoablation, radiofrequency ablation, and radiation therapy.

A person should speak with a healthcare professional about which treatments may work best for them and what to expect before, during, and after a procedure.

Learn more about treatment for kidney cancer here.

In stage 2 kidney cancer, cancerous cells begin to uncontrollably multiply within the kidney. Individuals with kidney cancer in this stage may have a tumor within their kidney, a major vein, or tissue surrounding the kidney, but the cancer has not yet spread to other parts of the body.

Most people with stage 2 kidney cancer respond well to surgical treatment. Surgery for stage 2 kidney cancer may involve removing all or part of the kidney to stop it from spreading. However, other treatments are available for people who cannot have surgery.

Individuals should speak with a doctor who can help develop an individualized treatment plan.