Purpose: Sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma often has an aggressive clinical course characterized by rapid disease progression. We evaluate prognostic factors for patient survival and the effect of treatment on patient outcome.
Materials and methods: Between 1987 and 1998, 108 patients were classified as having sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma at our institution. We reviewed the records of these patients to identify clinical and pathological prognostic variables. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to determine differences in overall survival.
Results: A total of 96 (89%) patients were symptomatic at presentation. Sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma was localized to the kidney in 25 (23%) patients, whereas metastasis was present in 83 (77%). The median overall survival of all patients was 9 months. The presence of clinically localized disease was associated with longer overall survival when compared to patients with metastasis (17 versus 7 months, respectively, p <0.004). Of 86 patients who received systemic therapy partial response was seen in 28, and no complete responses were noted. Patients who had a partial response had a median survival of 19 months and those with no response 7 (p <0.005). Those patients with metastatic disease who were treated with nephrectomy followed by systemic therapy survived a median time of 8.5 months, whereas those who received systemic therapy alone 5.3 (p = 0.08).
Conclusions: Patients with sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma have poor overall survival because of the aggressive biological behavior. Survival is longer for patients presenting with clinically localized disease, single metastatic site, and exhibiting a partial response to systemic therapy.