Everolimus (RAD001, Afinitor((R)) Novartis) is the first oral inhibitor of mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) to reach the oncology clinic. Everolimus 10 mg daily achieves complete inhibition of its target at below the maximum tolerable dose for most patients. A phase III randomized placebo-controlled trial has examined the impact of everolimus in patients with clear cell renal cancers and progressive disease on or within 6 months of the VEGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors sunitinib and/or sorafenib. The primary endpoint of progression-free survival was increased from median 1.9 to 4.9 months (hazard ratio 0.33, P < 0.001) and 25% were still progression-free after 10 months of everolimus therapy. There was a delay in time to decline of performance status and trends to improvement in quality of life, disease-related symptoms, and overall survival despite crossover of the majority of patients assigned to placebo. In 2009, everolimus was approved in the US and Europe as the only validated option for this indication. Toxicities are usually mild to moderate and can be managed with dose reduction or interruption if necessary. Opportunistic infections and non-infectious pneumonitis are seen as a class effect. Management of common practical management issues are discussed. Clinical trials are in progress to examine additional roles for everolimus in renal cancer, alone and in combination with other agents.
Keywords: advanced renal cancer; drug therapy; everolimus.