What Happens When Kidney Cancer Spreads?

When kidney cancer spreads, it is known as metastatic kidney cancer. This condition is sometimes also referred to as advanced or late-stage kidney cancer.

There are three ways that kidney cancer can spread:

  • Abnormal cells can accumulate into tumors. The genes that regulate cellular growth become altered, allowing those cells to reproduce more quickly than normal and live past the end of their normal lifespan. As the resulting tumors continue to grow, they can invade surrounding healthy tissues, including nearby muscles or veins that carry blood away from the kidneys.
  • Cancerous cells can invade the lymph nodes near the kidneys. From there, the cells can travel through the lymphatic system by attaching themselves to the outer wall of a lymph or blood vessel. If not destroyed by the immune system, the cancerous cells can accumulate into secondary tumors elsewhere in the body.
  • Cancerous cells can break off from a tumor and make their way into the bloodstream, where they can circulate throughout the body.

What are the symptoms of metastatic kidney cancer?

When kidney cancer metastasizes, it can cause symptoms in the part(s) of the body where it has spread. For instance, bone metastases can cause pain and an increased susceptibility to fractures, while liver metastases can cause jaundice, abdominal pain and liver failure. Metastatic kidney cancer can also cause generalized symptoms, such as fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we welcome patients with all types and stages of kidney cancer. We offer comprehensive diagnostic testing, treatment and supportive care services in a single location. Our experienced oncologists can provide more information about what happens when kidney cancer spreads, including how metastatic kidney cancer can best be treated.

If you’d like to learn more, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment with Moffitt’s experienced urologic oncologists. No referral is necessary to meet with a member of our team.