Kidney Cancer Prognosis

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A kidney prognosis doesn't have to be confusing.
A kidney prognosis doesn't have to be confusing. (Image: Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When someone receives a kidney cancer diagnosis, they instantly want to know what the prognosis is for their survival. In diagnosing cancer, the prognosis is normally given in five-year increments and the doctor will use a staging process to help a patient understand what her chances are of surviving five or more years after treatment.

Stages

When a doctor attempts to give a kidney cancer prognosis on how effective treatment may be, she will traditionally use the TNM staging system for identifying the various stages of kidney cancer. The T stands for tumor size and whether or not the tumor has spread to any of the surrounding tissue. The N stands for the lymph nodes, and this is a determination as to whether or not the lymph nodes have been infected with the cancerous cells. The M stands for metastases and this is an indication of whether or not the cancer has spread to any organs or bones that are surrounding the affected area. The letter is followed by a number to indicate how advanced that particular part of the staging is, and an X means that the exact advancement cannot be determined.

The TNM classifications are grouped together into an overall stage that is indicated by a Roman numeral. Stage I is a less developed stage of kidney cancer while Stage IV indicates very advanced kidney cancer that has spread to other organs in the body.

Average Life Expectancy

When creating a kidney cancer prognosis based on the overall stages of kidney cancer, doctors use information from previous cases to predict the likelihood that a person will survive for up to five years after treatment. In the case of kidney cancer, the average number of patients who will survive five years or more is approximately 60 percent.

Stages

Stage I kidney cancer generally means that the cancer has been diagnosed early enough that it is still confined to the kidney, and has not yet affected the tissue or organs surrounding the kidney. It is expected that approximately 95 percent of the people diagnosed as Stage I will survive five or more years after treatment.

Stage II is still considered an early form of the disease, but the more advanced phases of Stage II begin to show a dimmer prognosis. In Stage II, it is expected that around 70 out of every 100 patients will survive five years or more.

Stage III starts to show more advanced phases of kidney cancer, and the survival rate can vary depending on where the cancer has spread. People in Stage III run a wide five-year survival rate from 40 percent all the way up to 70 percent.

People diagnosed as Stage IV stand a less than 10 percent chance of surviving five years or more.

Expert Insight

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 28,000 Americans learn that they have kidney cancer.

Physical Reaction

Each person with kidney cancer reacts differently to the disease as it progresses. However, doctors are able to use certain common indicators that can help them see which patient's body is fighting the cancer better than other patients in the same stage. Patients displaying symptoms such as a fever, extreme fatigue, and noticeable weight loss are showing signs that their body is not able to fight the infection as well as other people. These symptoms generally indicate a more grim kidney cancer prognosis and a shorter life expectancy than other patients in the same stage.

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