Renal pelvis and ureter cancer

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Survival statistics for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter

Survival statistics for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive the cancer.

In Canada, separate 5-year net survival statistics are not reported for cancer of the renal pelvis. It is grouped and reported together with kidney cancer. This statistic does not necessarily reflect the actual survival for cancer of the renal pelvis.

The 5-year net survival for both kidney cancer and renal pelvis cancer together is 71%. This means that about 71% of people diagnosed with kidney cancer or renal pelvis cancer will survive at least 5 years.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for cancer of the ureter is 46%. This means that about 46% of people diagnosed with cancer of the ureter will survive at least 5 years.

Survival by grade and stage

Survival varies with each grade and stage. Cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter is often found at an early stage. Generally, the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are alive at least 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. But people with this type of cancer may live much longer than 5 years.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different grades or stages for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It includes statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada.

Survival for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter
Grade and stage5-year survival rate

The cancer is low grade and has not grown beyond the connective tissue layer (lamina propria).


The cancer is grade 1, 2 or 3 and only in the inner lining (urothelium).


The cancer is high grade and has grown into the wall of the pelvis.

20% to 30%

The cancer has grown through the renal pelvis into nearby areas.


Survival rates for cancer of the ureter are about 10% to 20% lower than for a similar grade and stage of cancer in the renal pelvis.

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the grade and stage
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.


A description of a tumour that includes how different the cancer cells look from normal cells (differentiation), how quickly the cancer cells are growing and dividing, and how likely they are to spread.

Grades are based on different grading systems that are used for specific cancers. Some types of cancer do not have a specific grading system.

The process of examining and classifying tumours based on how cancer cells look and behave under the microscope is called grading.


A description of the extent of cancer in the body, including the size of the tumour, whether there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes and whether the disease has spread from its original site to other parts of the body.

Stages are based on specific criteria for each type of cancer.

The process of determining the extent of cancer in the body based on exams and tests is called staging.


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