According to the American Cancer Society, the relative survival rate for people of all ages and all stages of kidney cancer is 76%, meaning people with kidney cancer are about 76% as likely as people in the general population to live at least 5 years.

Your kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs found in the back of your abdomen that filter waste from your blood.

The stage of your kidney cancer is the factor with the strongest influence on your chances of survival. People with cancer isolated to the kidney have a 5-year relative survival rate of 93%, but this drops to 15% if the cancer reaches distant areas.

Age is another important factor that influences your outlook. Younger age at the time of your diagnosis is associated with a better chance of surviving at least 5 years.

In this article, we examine how age and other factors influence the survival rate of kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer statistics

The American Cancer Association estimates that about 81,800 people will develop kidney cancer in the United States in 2023. The lifetime risk for men is about 1 in 46 and for women is 1 in 80.

The risk of developing kidney cancer increases with age. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 65 to 74.

Other risk factors for kidney cancer include:

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Doctors often consider your age when estimating your chances of surviving kidney cancer and determining the best treatment options. Being diagnosed at a younger age is associated with a better chance of surviving at least 5 years.

Here’s a look at the kidney cancer survival rates by age from 2012 to 2018 in the United States according to the National Cancer Institute:

Age5-year relative survival rate
all ages76.5%
under 1592.4%
over 6561.2%

Trends in kidney cancer survival rates

Survival rates for kidney cancer continue to rise as researchers develop new treatments. The 5-year relative survival rate improved by 1.3% from 2000 to 2006 and 0.5% between 2006 to 2018.

The survival rates will likely continue to rise when newer data is available.

The number of kidney cancers diagnosed each year in developed countries is also predicted to decrease over the next decade.

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The stage of your kidney cancer is the factor that has the strongest influence on your chances of survival. Early-stage kidney cancer is easier to treat than late-stage cancer.

Learn more about the outlook of kidney cancer by stage.

Other factors that influence your survival rate include:

IMDC for metastatic kidney cancer risk

The IMDC is the most common system doctors use to predict the outlook for people with kidney cancer that has spread to distant body parts, also called metastatic kidney cancer.

The following factors on the IMDC are associated with a poorer outlook:

Doctors classify your level of risk depending on how many risk factors you have:

  • favorable if you have no risk factors
  • intermediate if you have 1 or 2
  • poor if you have more than 3

How fast does kidney cancer spread?

The speed at which kidney cancer grows varies widely between people. In a small 2021 study, researchers found that 33 kidney cancers grew from 0.28 to 1.7 centimeters (0.11 to 0.65 inches) per month. Half of the tumors grew by at least 0.87 centimeters (0.34 inches) per month.

Researchers admit that this finding was likely higher than normal due to their study design. Most renal cell carcinomas grow slowly, with an average tumor growth rate ranging from 0.09 cm (.035 in) a year to 0.86 cm (0.33 in) a year.

Is kidney cancer usually fatal?

Most cases of kidney cancer are treatable. People with kidney cancer have roughly a 75% chance of living at least 5 years compared to the general population.

Can kidney cancer be cured?

Kidney cancer is often curable if it hasn’t spread to distant body parts at the time it’s diagnosed. The 5-year relative survival rates are:

  • 93% if the cancer is contained to your kidney
  • 71% if it’s contained to the surrounding area
  • 15% if it spreads to distant tissue

What’s the most common type of kidney cancer?

About 90% of kidney cancers start in the lining of small tubes in your kidney and are called renal cell carcinoma. The most common type of renal cell carcinoma is called clear cell renal carcinoma. It gets its name from the appearance of its cells under a microscope.

Your kidney cancer stage is the factor that has the strongest influence on your survival rate. Your age at the time of your diagnosis also influences your chances of survival. In general, people diagnosed at a younger age have a better chance of surviving at least 5 years.

Kidney cancer survival rates are continuing to improve. The latest statistics published by the NCI are from 2018. It’s likely that the survival rates will continue to improve as new data is released.