April 24 (UPI) — Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found surgery for patients with late-stage kidney cancer may more than double their life expectancy.
Cases of kidney cancer have increased in the United States over the past 20 years, according to the American Cancer Society, which estimates 63,990 new diagnoses and 14,400 deaths will occur 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 disease, with some patients dying much sooner and some living much longer than expected,” Dr. Bradley Leibovich, a Mayo Clinic urologist, said in a press release.
The study found patients who had surgery to remove secondary tumor growth known as metastases had a two to almost 10 year longer life expectancy than patients who did not have surgery.
Researchers analyzed eight previous studies of 2,267 patients with renal cell carcinoma and found total life expectancy for patients whose metastases weren’t surgically removed was between eight months to slightly over two years, however, patients who did have surgery had a life expectancy of three to 12 years.
“The research found patients who had surgery to remove metastases were about half as likely to have died from their metastatic disease at every point in time after diagnosis,” Leibovich said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat kidney cancer in 1992, but since then there have been major advancements in drug therapies and currently there are more than 10 types of drugs to treat kidney cancer.
Leibovich said the concern is that due to the number of drug therapy options available many patients are not referred to surgeons and medical oncologists may not be considering surgery for their patients.
“Is that so bad if we have all these drugs?” Leibovich said. “The answer is maybe yes, because the drugs, while they have improved survival, are not usually curative. If they 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 overall survival.”
The study was published in The Journal of Urology.