Cytoreductive Nephrectomy, Immunotherapy-Based Systemic Therapy Induce Benefit in mRCC

December 3, 2020
Kevin Wright

A pooled analysis compared survival among patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with cytoreductive nephrectomy and either targeted therapy or immunotherapy regimens utilizing checkpoint inhibitors.

Patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) who underwent cytoreductive nephrectomy experienced improved survival when treated with either targeted therapy or immunotherapy, according to research presented at the 21st Annual Meeting of the Society for Urologic Oncology.1

In particular, patients treated with systemic immunotherapy derived the greatest benefit.

The investigators assessed the effect of cytoreductive nephrectomy by searching PubMed and conference proceedings of relevant medical societies to identify observational cohort studies for patients receiving either targeted therapy or immunotherapy.

The primary objective of the study was to assess the benefit of cytoreductive nephrectomy relative to the newer area of immunotherapy regimens utilizing checkpoint inhibitors.

Studies were limited to those where the investigators were able to identify analyses of the effect of cytoreductive nephrectomy in patients receiving targeted therapy and immunotherapy from the same dataset.

From the 280 search results, 3 relevant studies were identified. Two studies reported comparisons of cytoreductive nephrectomy with systemic therapy and systemic therapy alone using the Nation Cancer Database, while the third utilized the International Metastatic RCC Database Consortium.

A pooled analysis of these studies indicated that there was improved survival with cytoreductive nephrectomy in both the targeted therapy cohorts (n = 2; HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.46-0.59; I2 = 80%) and the immunotherapy cohorts (n = 2; HR, 0.28; 95% CI 0.16-0.49; I2 = 21%), with a significantly stronger association in the immunotherapy groups (P = 0.04; I2 = 77%).

The value of cytoreductive nephrectomy was called into question following the results of the CARMENA trial, which failed to demonstrate a benefit of cytoreductive nephrectomy among patients receiving sunitinib (Sutent).2

While that trial showed that patients receiving sunitinib alone had superior overall survival to those patients receiving cytoreductive nephrectomy plus sunitinib (27.9 months vs 19.0 months; HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.70–1.24), researchers at the time noted that the combination approach might still be applied to select subgroups of patients.

While the current study was limited to observational data, the investigators believed the results of the CARMENA trial do not preclude a benefit of cytoreductive nephrectomy for patients when combined with current immunotherapy-based regimens.

They noted that ongoing studies specifically evaluating cytoreductive nephrectomy in combination with immunotherapy-based treatment should help clarify the role of cytoreductive nephrectomy in current practice settings.


  1. Hall ME, Bhindi B, Luckenbaugh AN, et al. Cytoreductive nephrectomy: are conclusions from the targeted therapy era valid in the checkpoint inhibitor era? Presented at: 21st Annual Meeting of the Society for Urologic Oncology; December 3, 2020. Poster 85.
  2. Lawrence L. Carmena Trial: Should Nephrectomy Be Standard for Metastatic RCC? CancerNetwork. June 10, 2019. Accessed December 3, 2020.