May 03, 2017
3 min read

Complete surgical metastasectomy improves survival in late-stage renal cell carcinoma

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Patients with late-stage renal cell carcinoma who underwent complete surgical metastasectomy achieved longer OS than patients who underwent incomplete metastasectomy, according to a meta-analysis published in The Journal of Urology.

“The research found patients who had surgery to remove metastases were about half as likely to have died of their metastatic disease at every point in time after diagnosis,” Bradley C. Leibovich, MD, chair of the urology department at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in a press release.

Kidney cancer cases have escalated over the past 2 decades. The American Cancer Society estimates 63,990 new diagnoses and 14,400 deaths in 2017.

“With a lot of cancers, we know there’s a range of survival, but kidney cancer is notable for very significant variability in survival after finding spread of the disease, with some patients dying much sooner and some living much longer than expected,” Leibovich said.

No randomized clinical trials have evaluated the role of complete surgical metastasectomy in patients with late-stage renal cell carcinoma. Observational studies have shown a survival benefit with an aggressive surgical approach but may be limited by selection bias.

To compare the survival benefit of complete surgical metastasectomy with incomplete or no metastasectomy, Leibovich and colleagues performed a systematic review of data from eight cohort studies with a low or moderate potential for bias.

The analysis included only comparative studies that reported adjusted HRs for all-cause mortality of incomplete surgical metastasectomy vs. complete surgical metastasectomy. The researchers used the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale to assess risk for bias.

Median OS served as the primary endpoint.

The analysis included 2,267 patients, 958 of whom underwent complete surgical metastasectomy and 1,309 who had incomplete surgical metastasectomy.

Median OS ranged from 36.5 months to 142 months for those who underwent complete surgical metastasectomy compared with 8.4 months to 27 months for incomplete surgical metastasectomy (adjusted HR = 2.37; 95% CI, 2.03-2.87) with low heterogeneity (I2 = 0%).

Complete surgical metastasectomy remained independently associated with a reduction in mortality across a priori subgroup and sensitivity analyses, regardless of adjusted performance status.

With more than 10 renal cell carcinoma treatments approved by the FDA in the past 10 years, future research should address the interaction of complete surgical metastasectomy and treatments to determine if the combination further increases survival, according to Leibovich.

“In people who haven’t had complete removal of the metastases, drug therapy seems to benefit,” Leibovich said. “But in patients who have that surgery, drug therapy doesn’t seem to make a difference. ... If the drugs work for only a finite period, and if surgery can lengthen the time before we need to enter that period, then we think that’s potentially additive to OS.” – by Chuck Gormley


Disclosure: NIH funded this study. The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.