ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with kidney cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.
Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.
How many people are diagnosed with kidney cancer?
In 2023, an estimated 81,800 adults (52,360 men and 29,440 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer. Worldwide, an estimated 431,288 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2020.
In the United States, kidney cancer is the sixth most common cancer for men. It is the ninth most common cancer for women. The average age at diagnosis for people with kidney cancer is 64, and most people are diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 74. Kidney cancer is not common in people younger than age 45. It is more common in Black people and American Indian people.
The number of new kidney cancers in the United States has been increasing for several decades, although that increase has slowed in recent years. Between 2010 and 2019, rates rose by 1% each year. Some of the increase has been due to an increase in the overall use of imaging tests. Imaging tests can find small kidney tumors unexpectedly when the tests are done for another reason unrelated to the cancer.
It is estimated that 14,890 deaths (9,920 men and 4,970 women) from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023. However, the death rate has been going down since the mid-1990s. Between 2013 and 2020, deaths from kidney cancer decreased by around 2% per year. In 2020, an estimated 179,368 people worldwide died from kidney cancer.
What is the survival rate for kidney cancer?
There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from kidney cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with kidney cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.
Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.
It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with kidney cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.
The 5-year relative survival rate for kidney cancer in the United States is 77%.
The survival rates for kidney cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Other factors that can affect outcomes include the type and cell type of the cancer when it is first diagnosed.
Researchers continue to study how tumor size, whether the cancer involves the lymph nodes, and how far the cancer has spread affects survival rates. Many of these studies calculate survival rates after surgery is done. These studies suggest that kidney cancer that spreads to the lymph nodes or distant areas of the body will have lower survival rates. However, recent advances in treatment, especially with immunotherapy (see Types of Treatment), are allowing some people with metastatic kidney cancer to live much longer than before.
About two-thirds of people are diagnosed when the cancer is located only in the kidney. For this group, the 5-year relative survival rate is 93%. If kidney cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 72%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 15%.
Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for kidney cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how kidney cancer is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023, the ACS website, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer website. (All sources accessed February 2023.)
The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by kidney cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.