Nephrectomy followed by interferon alfa-2b compared with interferon alfa-2b alone for metastatic renal-cell cancer

N Engl J Med. 2001 Dec 6;345(23):1655-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa003013.


Background: The value of nephrectomy in metastatic renal-cell cancer has long been debated. Several nonrandomized studies suggest a higher rate of response to systemic therapy and longer survival in patients who have undergone nephrectomy.

Methods: We randomly assigned patients with metastatic renal-cell cancer who were acceptable candidates for nephrectomy to undergo radical nephrectomy followed by therapy with interferon alfa-2b or to receive interferon alfa-2b therapy alone. The primary end point was survival, and the secondary end point was a response of the tumor to treatment.

Results: The median survival of 120 eligible patients assigned to surgery followed by interferon was 11.1 months, and among the 121 eligible patients assigned to interferon alone it was 8.1 months (P=0.05). The difference in median survival between the two groups was independent of performance status, metastatic site, and the presence or absence of a measurable metastatic lesion.

Conclusions: Nephrectomy followed by interferon therapy results in longer survival among patients with metastatic renal-cell cancer than does interferon therapy alone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actuarial Analysis
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Nephrectomy*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins