Purpose: Broadened applications of imaging modalities have increased the incidental detection of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) over the past decade. Previous small series have suggested a prognostic benefit for incidental presentation. This study utilizes a large contemporary patient cohort to examine patterns of RCC presentation and their clinical implications.
Materials and methods: Retrospective analysis was performed on 721 patients (260 women, 461 men) who underwent 750 nephrectomies for treatment of RCC between 7/1/89 and 12/31/97; 29 patients required two operations for bilateral RCC. Median age and follow-up were 63 years and 41 months, respectively. Indicators of symptomatic presentation included flank pain, flank mass, hematuria, varicocele, constitutional symptoms, paraneoplastic syndromes, and bone pain related to metastatic disease. Mode of presentation was compared with clinicopathologic parameters using Chi-square and t-test analyses. Survival analysis was performed using Kaplan-Meier estimates (log-rank test) and Cox regression modeling.
Results: Incidental and symptomatic presentation occurred in 57% and 42% of cases, respectively. When compared to incidental cases, symptomatic presentation was predominantly detected in younger patients (mean age, 59 years; P < .001), in males (P < .04), and in tumors with conventional (clear cell) histology (P < .001), larger size (mean, 8 cm; P < .001), and non-organ confined pathology (P < .001). In univariate analysis, symptomatic cases had a more adverse disease-free (P < .0001) and disease-specific (P < .0001) survival. In multivariate analysis, mode of presentation was an independent predictor of disease-free (P < 0.0001) and disease-specific survival (P < 0.005).
Conclusions: Symptomatic presentation correlates with an aggressive histology and advanced disease. Incidental tumors may be frequently detected in female and elderly patients, as these groups traditionally seek general medical care more regularly. Mode of presentation can independently predict an adverse patient outcome and should be included in RCC-specific modeling systems.