Cancer that spreads beyond its source of origin is termed as metastatic cancer, which in case of kidney cancer results in a condition called metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Stage 4 kidney cancer is most advanced and at this point, cancer starts spreading to vital organs in the body through a process called metastasis. Metastasis causes the cancer cells to spread through tissues in the affected areas or thorugh the lymph system in your body and your bloodstream leading to advanced stages of metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
It is only logical to opt for viable treatments for renal cell carcinoma since advanced stages develop when this condition is untreated. Treatment options for renal cell carcinoma and metastatic renal cell carcinoma include:
Surgical resection: Two distinct types of surgical resections namely partial nephrectomy and radical nephrectomy is advised for treating stage 1 renal cell carcinoma. At stage 1, cancer mainly affects the kidney and has not yet spread to other vital organs through tissue, lymph system or bloodstream. Surgical procedures are possible only in those cases where cancer or tumor can be isolated for treatment before metastasis. Also, surgery is an option which is available for patients who are in the early stages of renal cell carcinoma. Patients who have advanced stages have to rely on alternative methods.
Immunotherapy: This is a biological therapy which involves the use of drugs to manipulate the immune system, making it a targeted approach for destroying cancer cells. Advanced stages, however, will need more than medications to tackle the cancerous cells.
Embolization: Embolization is a process wherein a substance is used to obstruct the blood vessels which blocks the flow to cancerous cells. Since cancer cells can be carried by the bloodstream to vital organs in metastasis, embolization helps block the blood flow to stop this transmission. However, there is a drawback of this targeted approach since the blood flow to healthy organs will also get blocked which in turn leads to many health complications.
Radiotherapy: Another targeted approach to destroy cancer cells using high-energy radiation. However, radiotherapy cannot be used if cancer has already spread to other vital organs and parts in your body which is why it is not effective against advanced stages of cancer. Supportive care for stages after metastasis include palliative radiotherapy for targeted treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
The chances of a healthy recovery will depend on the severity of the condition and also the on the patient. Factors like the stage of the disease, age and general health of the patient must be considered while assessing the prognosis.