Press release

Kidney cancer survival improves over 2 decades

Latest report from PHE’s National Cancer Intelligence Network.

Doctor with patient

Incidence of kidney cancer, the eighth most common cancer in England, have risen over 2 decades although survival rates have improved, a new report by Public Health England’s National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) reveals today (16 April 2014).

The report examines trends in survival of kidney cancer in England over 20 years (1990 to 2010) and found that people diagnosed with the main type of kidney cancer, Renal Cell Carcinoma, have seen an overall improvement in survival. However, for around 10% of patients diagnosed with rarer types of kidney cancer such as Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC), there has been no significant change. This could be because TCC is less likely to be detected early via medical imaging, but also because of less advances in developing successful treatments.

Professor Julia Verne, Strategic Lead at Public Health England’s NCIN, said:

This report shows that both 1 and 5-year relative survival rates from kidney cancer have improved and steadily increased since 1990, with no significant difference noted between genders. During this period, 1-year survival improved from 58% to 72% in males and 54% to 71% in females, an increase of 14% and 17% respectively. At 5-years, the survival rate improved from 39% to 55% in males and from 37% to 55% in females.

This knowledge will help us continue to build on this great work with NHS England and our local partners to find ways to further these positive outcomes through earlier diagnosis and treatment services.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said:

It’s extremely promising to see these improvements in survival, but we want to do better. Our Be Clear on Cancer campaign, focussed on kidney and bladder cancer, launched nationally last year to raise awareness of the symptoms, which is crucial to early detection, treatment and will impact on survival.

Receiving an early diagnosis increases the chance of survival for the 16,600 people who are diagnosed with bladder or kidney cancer every year in England. Our Be Clear on Cancer message is clear – as soon as you spot blood in your pee, visit the GP. It’s probably nothing serious but it could also be a sign of something else that needs treatment, so don’t ignore the symptoms or put off a trip to the doctor.

Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England said:

This is very encouraging news and reflects continued improvements in speed of diagnosis and treatment of patients with kidney cancer. More accurate medical imaging means cancers are being picked up earlier than ever before and alongside improved treatment, this is meaning better outcomes for patients. We aren’t complacent though and we need to continue to work hard to reduce regional variations in treatment quality and improve outcomes for patients with rarer types of kidney cancer.


Notes to editors

  • Read NCIN’s ‘Kidney Cancer Survival Report’. The data is based on all kidney cancer diagnoses in England between 1990 and 2010.

  • Kidney cancer survival rates are influenced by sex, the tumour cell type, the grade of differentiation and the stage at presentation.

  • Renal Cell Carcinoma relative survival rates: males 1-year, 65% to 78%, and at 5-years 46% to 64%; females one-year 63% to 79%, and at 5 years 44% to 65%.

  • Kidney cancer incidence rates increased for both sexes from 1990 to 1992 to 2008 to 2010 (p<0.001 for both sexes):
    • age-standardised rate in males increased from 8.9 per 100,000 (2,179 cases per year on average) to 13.3 per 100,000
    • age-standardised rate in females increased from 4.3 per 100,000 (1,346 cases per year on average) to 7.1 per 100,000 females
  • Visit the Be Clear on Cancer campaign website for more information on bladder and kidney cancer.

  • Bladder and Kidney cancer diagnosis data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on request, June 2012.

  • The Government’s priorities for cancer as set out in ‘Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer (January 2011)’ includes the ambition to save an additional 5,000 lives per year by 2014 to 2015.

  • For information about the national cancer strategy, please visit the NHS Choices website

  • About the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), operated by Public Health England: The NCIN was established in June 2008 to coordinate the collection, analysis and publication of comparative national statistics on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for all types of cancer. The NCIN is a UK wide partnership funded by multiple stakeholders. The NCIN will drive improvements in the standards of care and clinical outcomes through exploiting data. The NCIN will support audit and research programmes by providing cancer information and patient care will be monitored through expert analyses of up-to-date statistics. For more information, please visit the NCIN website and

  • NHS England is the Executive Non-Departmental public body responsible for overseeing the running of the NHS. It aims to improve the health of the people in England by working in an open, evidence-based and inclusive fashion, keeping patients at the heart of everything it does. For further information, please email the NHS England media team at or call 07768 901293.

  • Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

Public Health England Press Office

Published 16 April 2014