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24

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017

3

Cancer staging

Staging tests

Cancer staging is how your doctors rate

and describe the extent of cancer in

your body. The rating—called the cancer

stage—is based on the results of certain

tests. Doctors use cancer staging to plan

which treatments are best for you. Part

3 describes the tests used for staging

and defines the stages of kidney cancer.

This information will help you use the

Treatment guide in Part 5.

Staging tests

Doctors use certain tests to find out where and how

much the cancer has grown and spread in your

body. These are called staging tests. Some staging

tests are recommended for all patients when kidney

cancer is first found. Other staging tests are only

recommended if you have certain signs or symptoms

of cancer spread. The staging tests used for kidney

cancer are listed in

Guide 2

and described next.

CT scan

A CT scan is an imaging test that uses x-rays to

take pictures of the inside of the body. A CT scan

of your abdomen will show if the kidney tumor has

grown into the attached adrenal gland or nearby

lymph nodes. A CT scan of your chest is used to

check if cancer has spread to your lungs or chest

area. The lungs are one of the most common distant

sites of kidney cancer spread. Thus, this test is often

given when kidney cancer is first found. A CT scan

of your brain may be used if you have symptoms

that suggest the cancer has spread to your brain.

Symptoms of cancer in the brain include chronic

headaches, seizures, loss of balance, weakness

on one side of the body, personality changes, and

trouble with walking, speech, or vision.

MRI scan

An MRI scan is an imaging test that uses radio

waves and powerful magnets to make pictures. An

MRI scan of your abdomen can clearly show the

blood vessels near your kidneys. It is used to check

if the cancer has spread to major blood vessels like

the vena cava. MRI scans take better and clearer

pictures of blood vessels than CT scans. MRI is

also very useful for viewing the brain. An MRI of

your brain may be used if you have symptoms that

suggest the cancer has spread to your brain.

Guide 2. Staging tests for everyone

First staging tests Staging tests based on signs or symptoms

• CT scan of the abdomen with or without the pelvis,

or MRI scan of the abdomen

• X-ray of the chest

• MRI of the brain

• CT scan of the chest

• Bone scan