Can partial nephrectomy preserve renal function and modify survival in comparison with radical nephrectomy?

Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2011 Mar;45(2):143-50. doi: 10.3109/00365599.2010.548082. Epub 2011 Jan 19.


Objective: To investigate whether radical nephrectomy (RN) and nephron-sparing surgery (NSS) for T1 renal cell carcinoma influence renal function, oncological outcome or survival rate.

Material and methods: A retrospective study was performed, including 290 nephrectomies for tumours of a diameter of less than 7 cm; 174 radical nephrectomies were compared to 116 nephron-sparing surgeries. Preoperative and pathological data were compared between the two groups. The glomerular filtration rate was estimated using the abbreviated Modification of Diet and Renal Disease (MDRD4) study equation. The evolution of renal function was analysed from 6 months to 4 years after surgery, and the oncological outcomes were evaluated by means of cancer and non-cancer survival curves.

Results: The results showed a major impairment in renal function in the RN group compared to those who underwent NSS (25 vs 7 ml/min/1.73 m², 6 months after surgery), a difference that was maintained over time. Moreover, patients undergoing RN had a greater chance of developing renal failure. Overall, the survival curves showed a higher mortality rate for the RN group (p = 0.034), although the cancer-specific mortality rate did not show any statistically significant differences (p = 0.079).

Conclusions: For stage T1 renal cortical tumours, NSS should, whenever possible, be regarded as the primary therapeutic option, given that it obtains similar oncological outcomes to RN and preserves renal function, which seems to translate into a lower overall mortality rate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney / surgery
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nephrectomy / methods*
  • Nephrons / pathology
  • Nephrons / physiology
  • Nephrons / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome