What Affects Kidney Cancer Survival Rates?

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  • Written By: A.M. Boyle
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Kidney cancer survival rates are generally based on a five-year calculation, that is, the percentage of people surviving for five years or longer after diagnosis. Survival rates vary greatly from person to person and are affected by several factors. Generally, one of the greatest factors in determining kidney cancer survival rates is the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. Studies also indicate that the size of the tumor might also play a role in survival rates. Finally, age and overall health can also affect a person’s chances of survival.

Survival rates for kidney cancer are highest when diagnosis is made during the first stage, when the cancer is still very localized within the kidney. During that stage, kidney cancer survival rates can range from 75-90 percent. When diagnosis is made after the cancer has entered the second stage, where it has spread but is still contained within the kidney, survival rates decrease to 65-75 percent. Survival rates drop to 40-70 percent during the third stage, when the cancer has spread to the regional area and lymph nodes. If the cancer has reached stage four and has metastasized to other parts of the body, survival rates drop significantly, to less than 20 percent.


Some studies have indicated that the size of the cancerous tumor might also affect kidney cancer survival rates. For instance, if the tumor found is less than 1.6 inches (4 cm), the survival rate can be as high as 90 percent. As the size increases, however, survival rates decrease proportionately. This is primarily because the smaller the tumor, the better the chances that it will respond to medication or be completely eradicated by surgery.

Health issues, no matter whether they are related to the cancer, can negatively affect kidney cancer survival rates because of the possibility of interference with a patient’s ability to tolerate necessary treatment. For instance, if a person has a heart condition or bleeding disorder, he or she might not be able to undergo recommended surgery for the cancer. Similarly, if a person suffers from high blood pressure or diabetes, he or she might not be able to take certain medications prescribed for kidney cancer. The same is true for a person’s age. If a patient is elderly at the time of diagnosis, his or her survival rate could be lower than average because of the inability to tolerate or respond favorably to the available treatment options.


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Post 3

I wouldn't take too much stock in the survival rates. Yes, they seem grim at times, but having any kind of percentage means someone out there beat the odds and you can as well.

Also, kidney cancer is one of the many cancers that can be caused by smoking and by obesity. Now is as good a time as any to try quitting either of those two situations. I'm all for people doing what they want to do, but if you want a long and healthy life it's better to hedge your bets.

Post 2

@bythewell - It only says that kidney cancer at stage 4 will be under 20% not that it will be close to 20%. In fact stage four means that the cancer cells have managed to appear somewhere else on the body. If that somewhere else is treatable, then that's well and good. If not, you have a problem.

I agree that attitude, or determination counts for something, but not everything. You can be as positive and cheerful and gusty as you like and sometimes the cancer will still take you.

People should just deal with it however is easiest for them. If you want to be angry, go ahead. If you want to be sad, that's what you should do. Don't feel like you need to be positive unless it helps you (which, I'm guessing, it usually does).

Post 1

There are so many different kinds of renal cancer you really need to sit down with your doctor and have him or her explain to you very carefully what all the different words and percentages mean if you have been diagnosed.

But take heart. Kidney cancer can usually be treated and I'm surprised that even stage four is said here to be close to 20% survival rate, as often once it gets to stage four the rate drops more than that. I think that attitude can count for a lot with any illness. Don't give up.

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