Recent Study Suggests Changes to Renal Cell Carcinoma Staging Classification

According to a story from Medscape, a recent cohort study published in the journal Cancer has concluded that updates are needed to the staging classification currently in use for renal cell carcinoma (RCC), a rare cancer. Typically cancers are staged by how likely the patient is to survive or how long they can be expected to. The study authors recommend that what is currently considered stage III lymph node positive disease should be moved to stage IV.

About Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the kidney that generally appears in the lining of the proximal convoluted tubule, a passage in the kidney that transports primary urine. Though generally considered rare, it is the most common type of kidney cancer to affect adults. There are several risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood of getting renal cell carcinoma, such as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. Other risk factors include long term use of NSAIDs, hysterectomy, certain genetic disorders, family history, and cystic disease of the kidney. This cancer rarely produces symptoms in its early stages, but when it has reached an advanced stage, symptoms may include flank pain, a noticeable abdominal mass, bloody urine, fatigue, fever, night sweats, weight loss and appetite loss, hypertension, and elevated calcium levels. To learn more about renal cell carcinoma, click here.

Study Analysis

This recommendation is based on the fact that patients living with lymph node positive stage III renal cell carcinoma had survival rates that were more or less on par with stage IV. Meanwhile, patients with stage III lymph node negative disease had a better survival rate.

The cohort study looked at data from a total of 8,988 patients. The data included patients with stage III node negative (6,587), patients with stage III node positive (2,218), and patients with stage IV (183). The scientists then assessed the five year survival rate of the patients in these groups and compared them. The node negative patients saw a five year survival of 61.9 percent. This plummeted to 22.7 percent in patients that were node positive and just 15.6 percent in patients with stage IV.

These results clearly demonstrate that stage III node positive and stage IV share a much more similar five year survival rate than node negative stage III.

Read more about this research here.

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