Stereotactic radiation therapy of renal cancer inferior vena cava tumor thrombus

Cancer Biol Ther. 2015;16(5):657-61. doi: 10.1080/15384047.2015.1026506.


Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) is a common malignancy world-wide that is rising in incidence. Up to 10% of RCC patients present with inferior vena cava (IVC) tumor thrombus (IVC-TT). Although surgery is the only treatment with proven efficacy for IVC-TT, the surgical management of advanced (level III and IV) IVC-TT is difficult with high morbidity and mortality, and offers a poor survival outcome. Currently, there are no treatment options in the setting of recurrent or unresectable RCC IVC-TT. Even though RCC may be resistant to conventionally fractionated radiation therapy, hypofractionated radiation has shown excellent control rates for both primary and metastatic RCC. We report our experience treating 2 RCC patients with Level IV IVC-TT -one recurrent and the other unresectable-with stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR). The first patient is a 75-year-old gentleman with a level IV RCC IVC-TT who presented 9 months after his radical nephrectomy and thrombectomy with a growing level IV IVC-TT that became refractory to 4 targeted agents. He received SABR of 50Gy in 5 fractions and at 2-year follow-up is doing well with a significant decrease in the enhancement and size of the IVC-TT. The second patient is an 83-year-old gentleman who presented with metastatic RCC and level IV IVC-TT but was not a surgical candidate. After progression on temsirolimus, he received SABR of 36Gy in 4 fractions to his IVC-TT and survived 18 months post-SABR. Both patients improved symptomatically and did not experience any acute or late treatment-related toxicity. Their survival of 24 months and 18 months are comparable to the reported median survival of 20 months in patients with level IV IVC-TT that underwent surgical resection. Therefore, SABR can be a potentially safe treatment option in the unresectable setting for RCC patients with IVC-TT and should be further evaluated in prospective trials.

Keywords: radiosurgery; renal cell carcinoma; stereotactic body radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Radiosurgery / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / pathology*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology*