Renal cell carcinoma with tumor thrombus extension into the vena cava: prospective long-term followup

Axel Haferkamp, Patrick J Bastian, Hildegard Jakobi, Maria Pritsch, Jesco Pfitzenmaier, Peter Albers, Peter Hallscheidt, Stefan C Müller, Markus Hohenfellner
Journal of Urology 2007, 177 (5): 1703-8

PURPOSE: We prospectively evaluated long-term survival in patients with renal cell carcinoma extending to the inferior vena cava.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: From 1993 and thereafter we followed 86 men and 48 women with a median age of 64 years (range 28 to 86) with renal cell carcinoma and tumor thrombus involvement of the inferior vena cava. Cancer specific survival was analyzed based on clinical therapy, tumor extent, thrombus level and grading.

RESULTS: Median followup was 16.4 months (range 0 to 178.9). At the time of this report 97 cancer specific deaths had occurred. Of the 134 patients 111 underwent radical nephrectomy, cavotomy and thrombus extraction, of whom 30 had distant metastases at surgery, and 23 were treated with embolization and immunotherapy. These nonsurgical patients who refused surgery had a high tumor load or a low Karnofsky performance status that may have affected survival. They died at a median of 6.9 months (range 0.1 to 23.6). Patients treated surgically, including those with metastases, had a significantly higher median survival of 19.8 months (range 0 to 178.9). Surgical patients with localized tumor (N0M0) had significantly higher median survival than those with metastatic (NxM1) disease (51.7 months, range 0 to 178.9 vs 6.9, range 0.6 to 149.7). Surgical patients with metastatic disease who underwent interferon and interleukin based immunotherapy had significantly higher median survival than those who did not (13.5 months, range 2.5 to 149.7 vs 5.1, range 0.6 to 24.0). On multivariate analysis localized tumor stage (N0M0) vs advanced tumor stage (N+M0 and NxM1), Fuhrman grade groups 1 and 2 vs 3 and 4, and tumor thrombus levels I and II vs III and IV were independent prognostic factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Currently radical surgery represents the only chance of long-term survival for patients with renal cell carcinoma and tumor thrombus extension in the inferior vena cava. Median cancer specific survival is significantly higher with localized tumor. However, even with metastatic disease radical surgery can prolong survival, especially when immunotherapy is added. Fuhrman grade and tumor thrombus level are also prognostic factors.

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