Purpose: Renal cell carcinoma is rare in patients younger than 40 years and conflicting data regarding presentation and outcome are present in the literature. We reviewed our experience with young patients with renal cell carcinoma and compared them to their older counterparts.
Materials and methods: We identified 1,720 patients 18 to 79 years old who were treated with partial or radical nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma between 1989 and 2005. Patients were grouped according to age and outcome analysis was performed.
Results: Of the 1,720 patients with renal cell carcinoma 89 (5%), 672 (39%) and 959 (56%) were younger than 40, 40 to 59 and 60 to 79 years old, respectively. There were no significant differences in sex, tumor size, TNM stage or multifocality by age group. However, patients younger than 40 years were significantly more likely to present with symptomatic tumors (p = 0.028). Additionally, there were significant differences in histology by age (p <0.001), that is chromophobe histology decreased while papillary histology increased with age. Despite similar tumor sizes in each age group the percent of patients treated with partial nephrectomy decreased with age. Of patients younger than 40 years 49% were treated with partial nephrectomy compared with 35% and 30% of those 40 to 59 and 60 to 79 years old, respectively (p <0.001). At a median followup of 2.6 years (range 0 to 14.5) we did not observe a significant difference in cancer specific survival according to age (p = 0.17).
Conclusions: Younger patients with renal cell carcinoma are more likely to have symptomatic tumors with chromophobe histology, although the prognosis appears similar across age groups. Older patients are more likely to be treated with radical nephrectomy, which requires careful scrutiny for current clinical practice.