Symptoms, Treatment & Life Expectancy of Metastatic Kidney Cancer

Submitted by Nic on October 16, 2012

Cancer of the kidneys is usually of two types -- renal cell carcinoma and urothelial cell carcinoma. The most common kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma. When cancer from one organ spreads to another organ rapidly, it is called a metastasis. Metastatic kidney cancer is, therefore, cancer from the kidney that rapidly spreads to other organs and is classified as Stage IV.

Most cancer is termed metastases when it has spread rapidly to other organs, dimming the chances of survival.  In the case of kidney cancer, when the cancer spreads to organs like lungs, brain, bones, liver and of course other parts of the kidneys, it is said to have metastasized.

In metastatic kidney cancer, life expectancy is greatly reduced. In the United States of America, most patients do not survive for 5 years post care, if kidney cancer is caught in stage I or stage II. Once the cancer has metastasized, the survival rate is less than 5 percent. This rate drops further if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.


Metastatic kidney cancer has symptoms of cancer that show up in different organs. When cancer metastasizes; the cancer is still identified as kidney cancer despite showing up in different organs. Metastases are very common in kidney cancer and even happen to patients who have had nephrectomy or surgery. Some of the main symptoms of metastatic kidney cancer are:

  • Bone fractures
  • Enlargement of a testicle (in men)
  • Excessive hair growth (in women)
  • Hypercalcemia or elevated calcium levels
  • Abnormalities in vision
  • Constipation

Prognosis and Treatment

The prognosis for metastatic kidney cancer is not very good. Once the kidney cancer has spread beyond the kidneys, it becomes very difficult to treat. There are treatment options, even at this stage and patients are encouraged to discuss options with the doctor. There are even clinical trials that you, as a patient, can be a part of.

Metastatic kidney cancer treatment includes different steps and methods. The course of treatments is decided on age and health of the patient, severity of the metastases and treatments given earlier. Some of the treatments suggested are Arterial Embolisation or cutting the supply of blood to the tumor, causing it to shrink. Biological Therapy is also an option where the doctor uses natural substances to combat the cancer. One example is interpheron alpha, something the immune system manufactures or even stem cells, which is a relatively new addition in cancer treatments. New therapies like cryotherapy and high-intensity ultrasound are used for intense focused treatments. Surgery is an option and usually last to be suggested as it is difficult to do.




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