You may have questions about your prognosis and survival for kidney cancer. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis. A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect you and how it will respond to treatment.
A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic that you have that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together, and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic and predictive factors for kidney cancer.
The stage of kidney cancer is the most important prognostic factor. People who have tumours that are only in the kidney have a better prognosis than people with cancer that has spread outside the kidney. Kidney cancer that has spread to the large vein in the abdomen leading to the heart (called the vena cava) have a poor prognosis.
Low-grade tumours have a better prognosis than high-grade tumours. Low-grade tumours are less likely to spread because they grow slowly. High-grade tumours are more aggressive and tend to spread quickly.
Papillary and chromophobe types of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) have a better prognosis because they are often low grade.
Collecting duct carcinoma and renal cell sarcoma have a poor prognosis because they are often very aggressive.
The most common system used to predict prognosis for people with metastatic renal cell carcinoma is the International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC). It uses 6 predictors:
These predictors are combined to develop a level of risk:
People with metastatic kidney cancer who have a favourable risk level have a better prognosis and survival than people with a poor risk level.
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.