Does Kidney Cancer Spread to Pancreas?

Kidney cancer could be life-threatening if not treated as well, especially when it has metastasized and caused a new tumor growth (secondary cancer) in another part of the body. At advanced stage, there are particular locations where it usually spreads to. Does it also spread to pancreas?

Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is quite common, especially in men. But the gender is not the risk factor. It can affect women, too.

image_illustration425In general, the risk of developing the disease is higher in people with the following conditions /factors:

  1. It’s thought that being obese is a significant risk factor of kidney cancer.
  2. Cigarette smoking. Getting exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with a number of different cancers. One of them is kidney cancer. The more you smoke, the higher the risk. Unfortunately, the answer of why and how smoking increases the risk is not fully known.
  3. Family history. It’s also thought that the disease runs in families. Having a close family member with kidney cancer can increase the risk.
  4. Having the following inherited genetic syndromes may also have an effect; tuberous sclerosis, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, and hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma.

Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), a common cause and a common consequence of kidney disease, is sometimes to blame too. Furthermore, kidney cancer is more common in older people. This suggests that age also has an effect – the risk increases with age.

The exact cause is unknown. Experts only know that the cancer starts to develop when cells of the kidney acquire mutations in the DNA. As a result they get altered, growing and dividing rapidly. And they will accumulate to form a cancerous tumor that may extend beyond the kidney over time, especially true if they grow aggressively and poorly treated.

The effect of kidney cancer is complex. But overall, it can be a serious threat for your kidneys function. Fortunately the prognosis and life expectancy of the disease is pretty good, especially if caught early. Some effective treatments are available to treat or even cure it.

Secondary cancer in the pancreas

A primary cancer is a term used to call the cancer where it first starts. In general, we call a cancer after the part /organ of the body where it first started to develop and grow. For instance, a cancer that starts in the lung is called lung cancer.

Sometimes cells of cancer can break free from the original tumor (primary cancer) which then travel through bloodstream or/and lymphatic system, and then they may form a new cancerous tumor (secondary cancer) elsewhere in the body.

The lymphatic system is a part of the body’s natural defense system (immune system) to help fight against infection and disease. In cancer staging, how many lymph nodes (glands of the lymphatic system) affected by the cancer are often used to determine how far the cancer has spread. Lymph nodes are linked with a network of tinny tubes (lymph) that can be found throughout the body.

So secondary cancer that grows in the pancreas is different to primary, pancreas cancer! It is a cancer that started elsewhere in the body and spreads to the pancreas. It is made up of the same type of cancer cells coming from the primary cancer. Therefore, the treatment for secondary pancreas cancer is different to the treatment for pancreas cancer.

The process of when the cancer cells have spread to another part of the body is called metastasis. In cancer staging, the stage of when the cancer has metastasized is called metastatic stage or also often called ‘stage IV’. It is the most advanced stage of the cancer.

Can kidney cancer spread to pancreas?

Theoretically, the cancer can metastasize anywhere in the body. But typically, again it’s likely to spread to particular areas of the body. Because most cancer cells that break away from the primary tumor are likely to get trapped in the nearby lymph nodes or the next downstream organ.

Your pancreas is located deep within the abdomen, just under the curvature of your stomach. This spongy, small organ is responsible for two main functions; (1) to secrete essential hormones (especially insulin) for glucose metabolism which is very important for your blood sugar control, and (2) to release enzymes for digestion of food.

The location of kidneys and pancreas in the body are quite close. This is one of reasons of why cancer cells started in the kidney might also spread to the pancreas. But in general, the metastasis of kidney cancer to the pancreas is not common.

The metastasis of kidney cancer is likely to spread to distant organs where many blood vessels or/and lymph vessels line to the kidneys – for more detailed information about this metastasis, visit this section!

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