Objective: In 60-70% of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC), metastases develop in the course of the disease. In the present analysis, the surgical management of metastases is described, and survival data are presented. This retrospective analysis may help in the management of future cases. Due to the retrospective nature of the data, no comparison between surgical and nonsurgical management is possible.
Methods: Between 1985 and 1995, 152 resections of RCC metastases were performed in 101 patients at four Dutch Hospitals. Thirty-five and 6 patients had metastases resected 2 and 3 times, respectively. In most patients, the primary tumor was resected (n = 95). Resections were performed for metastases at different locations: lung n = 54, bone n = 42, lymph nodes n = 18, cerebrum n = 12 and locations in the spinal canal, thyroid, bowel, and testis. Skin excisions were excluded from the analysis. Solitary metastases were resected in 40 patients.
Results: Median survival after the initial metastasectomy was 28 months. Initial tumor stage, grade, or size were not related to metastasis location or survival. The number of initially resected pulmonary metastases was of no influence on survival, however, multiple consecutive resections were related with longer survival. Patients with solitary metastases (n = 40) did not show longer survival after the first metastasectomy compared to no solitary lesions. Better survival was found for lung metastases compared to other tumor locations (p = 0.0006, log rank test) and for patients that were clinically tumor free after metastasectomy (p = 0.0230, log rank test). Additional immuno- or radiotherapy did not independently influence survival. Time interval between primary tumor resection and metastasectomy correlated positively with survival: a tumor-free interval of more than 2 years between primary tumor and metastasis was accompanied by a longer disease-specific survival after metastasectomy. Eleven patients were free of disease after metastasectomy with a median time of 47 (14-65) months. The median time of hospital admittance for metastasectomy was 9 days (4-64). Lethal complications were found in 2 patients. Long-term (>5 years) disease-free survival was achieved in 7% of patients whereas 14% of patients were free of disease with a minimal follow-up of 45 months.
Conclusions: (1) Surgical management of metastases could be performed with short hospital stay, and low complication rates were found. (2) Disease-free survival was found in 14 and 7%, with follow-ups of at least 45 and 60 months, respectively. (3) The longest survival was found after surgery for pulmonary lesions. (4) Resection of solitary metastases did not result in longer survival compared to resection of nonsolitary lesions. (5) An interval shorter than 2 years between primary tumor and metastases was correlated with a shorter disease-specific survival.