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Special populations in metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review focuses on special populations poorly represented in current evidence-based practice for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). This includes the elderly and frail, patients on immunosuppression or with autoimmune diseases, patients with brain, liver, and/or bone metastases, and RCC with sarcomatoid features.

RECENT FINDINGS: Certain populations are poorly represented in current trials for mRCC. Patients with central nervous system (CNS) metastases are often excluded from first-line therapy trials. Modern doublet systemic therapy appears to benefit patients with bone or liver metastases, but data supporting this conclusion is not robust. Post-hoc analyses on patients with sarcomatoid differentiation have shown improved response to modern doublet therapy over historical treatments. The elderly are underrepresented in current clinical trials, and most trials exclude all but high-performing (nonfrail) patients, though true frailty is likely poorly captured using the current widely adopted indices. It is difficult to make conclusions about the efficacy of modern therapy in these populations from subgroup analyses. Data from trials on other malignancies in patients with autoimmune diseases or solid organ transplant recipients on immunosuppression suggest that immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) may still have benefit, though at the risk of disease flare or organ rejection. The efficacy of ICIs has not been demonstrated specifically for RCC in this group of patients.

SUMMARY: The elderly, frail, and immunosuppressed, those with tumors having aggressive histologic features, and patients with brain, bone, and/or liver metastases represent the populations least understood in the modern era of RCC treatment.

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