Prognosis and survival for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter

If you have cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect someone and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type and stage and other features of the cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person (such as sex and whether they smoke) 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. They both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.

The following are prognostic and predictive factors for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter.

Depth of tumour and stage

How deep the tumour has grown into the wall of the renal pelvis or ureter is an important prognostic factor. The deeper the tumour has grown into the wall, the less favourable the prognosis.

Advanced stages of cancer that have spread beyond the renal pelvis or ureter into lymph nodes or other parts of the body have a poorer prognosis than early stages.


Low-grade cancers of the renal pelvis or ureter do not usually grow into the muscle layer of the renal pelvis or ureter wall and do not usually spread to other parts of the body. Because of this, low-grade cancers tend to have a good prognosis. High-grade cancers have a greater risk of spreading and a poorer prognosis.

Tumours that are only on the surface of the inner lining (superficial tumours) are usually well differentiated, which means the cancer cells look much like normal urothelial cells. These tumours have a good prognosis.

Expert review and references

Survival statistics for cancer of the renal pelvis or ureter

Learn about survival statistics for renal pelvis and ureter cancer, including relative survival and survival by stage. Survival varies with each stage of renal pelvis and ureter cancer.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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