Survival Rates for Kidney Cancer by Stage

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some people with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you decide that you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured). Also, some people die from causes other than their cancer.

In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Treatments for kidney cancer have changed in recent years, which may result in a better outlook for people now being diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any person’s case. Many other factors can affect a person’s outlook, such as the grade of the cancer, the treatment received, and the patient’s age and overall health. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

Survival rates by AJCC TNM stage

The numbers below come from the National Cancer Data Base and are based on patients first diagnosed in the years 2001 and 2002. These are observed survival rates. They include people diagnosed with kidney cancer who may have later died from other causes, such as heart disease. People with kidney cancer tend to be older and may have other serious health conditions. Therefore, the percentage of people surviving the cancer itself is likely to be higher.


    5-Year Survival Rate









Survival rates in the UCLA Integrated Staging System

Researchers at UCLA have published a study evaluating their system in patients treated there from 1989 to 2005, looking at survival rates of the low-, intermediate- and high-risk groups. All of these patients at least had surgery to remove the tumor in the kidney. These numbers are disease-specific survival rates, meaning they only take into account people who died from their kidney cancer (and not other causes).

For patients with localized kidney cancer (cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs), 5-year survival rates were 97% for the low-risk group, 81% for intermediate-risk group, and 62% for the high-risk group.

For patients with kidney cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs when it was first found, 5-year survival rates were 41% for the low-risk group, 18% for intermediate-risk group, and 8% for the high-risk group.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: February 24, 2014 Last Revised: May 16, 2016

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