Renal pelvis and ureter cancer

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Stages of renal pelvis and ureter cancer

Staging describes or classifies a cancer based on how much cancer there is in the body and where it is when first diagnosed. This is often called the extent of cancer. Information from tests is used to find out the size of the tumour, which parts of the organ have cancer, whether the cancer has spread from where it first started and where the cancer has spread. Your healthcare team uses the stage to plan treatment and estimate the outcome (your prognosis).

The most common staging system for renal pelvis and ureter cancer is the TNM system. For renal pelvis and ureter cancer there are 5 stages – stage 0 followed by stages 1 to 4. Often the stages 1 to 4 are written as the Roman numerals I, II, III and IV. Generally, the higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about staging.

When describing the stage, doctors may use the words local, regional or distant. Local means that the cancer is only in the renal pelvis or ureter and has not spread to other parts of the body. Regional means close to the renal pelvis or ureter. Distant means in a part of the body farther from the renal pelvis and ureter.

Find out more about staging cancer.

Stage 0 (or carcinoma in situ)

The tumour is only in the lining of the renal pelvis or ureter.

Stage 1

The tumour has grown through the lining into the connective tissue layer of the renal pelvis or ureter.

Stage 2

The tumour has grown through the connective tissue and into the muscle layer of the renal pelvis or ureter.

Stage 3

The tumour has grown through the muscle layer and into the kidney or fat that surrounds the renal pelvis or ureter.

Stage 4

Any of the following:

  • The tumour has grown into nearby organs or through the kidney to the surrounding fat.
  • The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • The cancer has spread to other parts of the body (called distant metastasis), such as to the lungs, liver or bone. This is also called metastatic renal pelvis and ureter cancer.

Recurrent renal pelvis and ureter cancer

Recurrent renal pelvis and ureter cancer means that the cancer has come back after it has been treated. If it comes back in the same place that the cancer first started, it’s called local recurrence. If it comes back in tissues or lymph nodes close to where it first started, it’s called regional recurrence. It can also recur in another part of the body. This is called distant metastasis or distant recurrence.

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