Categories: Oncology

What is the Survival Rate of Kidney Cancer Patients?

What is Kidney Cancer?

Each person has got a pair of kidneys located posteriorly on the lower side of the abdomen.  The kidney purifies blood for nutrients and discharges urine.

Like all the other cancers, when the healthy kidney cells start to behave abnormally and grow out of proportion, accumulating to form a tumor, it is known as kidney cancer. As the kidney is a confined organ, the cancers here are detected early before metastasis happens to nearby organs.

What are the causes of Kidney Cancer?

Similar to the other cancers the cause is unknown but certain risk factors have known to be associated

  • Smoking
  • Men are twice as likely as women to get kidney cancer.
  • Extra weight may cause hormonal changes that increase cancer risk.
  • Certain pain medications for a long time.
  • Having advanced kidney disease or being on long-term dialysis
  • Certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease or inherited papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Family history of kidney cancer especially in siblings.
  • Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos, cadmium, benzene, organic solvents, or certain herbicides
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Being black. The risk in blacks is slightly higher than in whites.
  • Having lymphoma

How kidney cancer does present?

  • Blood in urine
  • A lump inside or abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain inside that doesn’t go away
  • Weight loss that occurs for an unknown reason
  • Fever that isn’t caused by a cold or other infection
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Swelling in your ankles or legs

Once detected through a physical exam, urine tests, blood examination, Intravenous pyelogram, USG, CT, MRI, and Renal arteriogram whichever is required, a proper treatment regimen is documented for attending.

Now getting on to our actual question, what is the Survival Rate of Kidney Cancer Patients?

The survival rate in a kidney patient depends on which stage of cancer is identified. This include

  • Size of the tumor (T).
  • Metastasis or spread to close by organs and blood vessels(M)
  • Spread to distant organs like bones, brain, lungs, and lymph nodes (N).

According to the American Cancer Society, numbers or letters after T, N, and M provide more details about each of these factors. Higher numbers mean the cancer is more advanced. Once a person’s T, N, and M categories have been determined, usually, after surgery, this information is combined in a process called stage grouping to assign an overall stage.

The earliest stage cancers are called stage 0 (confined), and then range from stages I (1) through IV (4), one being lowest and 4 being the most advanced cancer. Some of the stages have sub-stages with the letters A, B, and C. The letter X means “cannot be assessed because the information is not available.” Here larger the number more cancer has spread.

Apart from its stage some other factors too define survival rates of kidney cancer patients.

These include:

  • High level of blood lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
  • High level of blood calcium
  • Anemia
  • Spread of Cancer to 2 or more distant sites
  • If the diagnosis happens less than a year before the patient needs systemic treatment (targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy)
  • Difficulty taking out normal daily activities

More is the existence of the above factors progressively worsens the prognosis and adversely affects the survival rate. Usually from the time the cancer is diagnosed the survival rate is 5 years.

5-year relative survival rates for kidney cancer as compared to the normal population of the same age are:

Stage The 5-year relative survival rate
Localized 93%
Regional 69%
Distant 12%
All stages combined 75%

The above rates show that with technological advancements in this field, kidney cancer can be treated to 100% at almost all stages. There is surgery, cry therapy, radiofrequency ablation, arterial embolization, biologic therapy, targeted therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy all of which make sure that the patient survives the pathology. It is important to look for early signs to detect kidney cancer, which will prevent its spread and improve the survival rate. The writer tries to defines just not what the survival rates are but how early detection, staging, and certain other factors contribute to an excellent survival rate.

Dr. Sudeep Singh Sachdev, Consultant – Nephrology, Kidney Transplant – Adult | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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