Below Safety Limits, Every Unit of Glomerular Filtration Rate Counts: Assessing the Relationship Between Renal Function and Cancer-specific Mortality in Renal Cell Carcinoma

Eur Urol. 2018 Nov;74(5):661-667. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2018.07.029. Epub 2018 Aug 10.


Background: The hypothesis that renal function could influence oncological outcomes is supported by anecdotal literature.

Objective: To determine whether estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is related to cancer-specific mortality (CSM) in patients who had undergone surgery for renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Design, setting, and participants: A retrospective analysis of 3457 patients who underwent radical (39%) or partial nephrectomy (61%) for cT1-2 RCC between 1990 and 2015.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: The eGFR was calculated by the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration equation. CSM was analyzed in a multivariable competing-risk framework, estimating the subdistribution hazard ratio (SHR) accounting for deaths from other causes. The relationship between eGFR and CSM was investigated from multiple statistical approaches-extended Cox regression with eGFR incorporated as a time-dependent covariate, landmark analysis, and joint modeling. Other predictors were selected by competing-risk random forest method and backward elimination.

Results and limitations: The relationship between eGFR and CSM was graphically described by a linear spline, i.e. a continuous piecewise linear function with two lines joined by a knot. For eGFR treated as a time-dependent covariate, the knot was located at 65ml/min; at landmark analysis with eGFR at the baseline, 12 mo, and last functional follow-up, the knots were 85, 60, and 65ml/min, respectively. In multivariable competing-risk analysis, CSM was associated with eGFR only for values of eGFR below these cutoffs, with SHRs for every 10ml/min of reduction in eGFR of 1.25 (p=0.003), 1.16 (p=0.028), 1.44 (p=0.02), and 1.16 (p=0.042), corresponding to time-dependent eGFR, and eGFR at baseline, 12 mo, and last functional follow-up, respectively. Joint modeling confirmed these results. A retrospective design with inherent biases in data collection represents a limitation.

Conclusions: In patients undergoing surgery for RCC, renal function should be preserved in order to improve cancer-related survival.

Patient summary: The relationship between renal function and probability of dying due to renal cancer is complex. The present study found a correlation between glomerular filtration rate and cancer specific mortality that could reconsider the oncological role of renal function in patients undergoing surgery for renal cancer.

Keywords: Cancer-specific mortality; Estimated glomerular filtration rate; Partial nephrectomy; Prognosis; Radical nephrectomy; Renal cell carcinoma; Renal function.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate*
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrectomy / adverse effects
  • Nephrectomy / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome