, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 13-25

Metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC): Spontaneous regression, long-term survival and late recurrence

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We report 4 cases of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) with long-term survival either following radical nephrectomy alone or in combination with radioor hormonal therapy.

Two patients with lymph node metastases showed a long-term survival of 12 or more years following radical tumour nephrectomy (with lymphadenectomy) and radiotherapy. One of them exhibited a histologically proven tumour recurrence nearly 12 years after primary surgical treatment and died shortly later; the other one is still without any evidence of metastatic disease.

Two other patients exhibited spontaneous regression of pulmonary metastases: one regression occurred after radical tumour nephrectomy alone, the other one after successful primary hormonal treatment and subsequent radical tumour nephrectomy.

The following important aspects are emphasized:

  1. Renal cell carcinoma is a very unpredictable tumour. Once the diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma is proved, a patient can never be considered cured.

  2. Although adjuvant palliative nephrectomy has produced contradictory results in several reports, radical tumour nephrectomy either alone or in combination with other adjuvant therapies such as radiotherapy, hormonal or immunological treatment, can be worthwhile. Cases with long-term survival and spontaneous regression of distant metastases are proof of this. Besides, if carefully selected, the mortality rate of different adjuvant therapies is not significantly higher in patients with metastatic disease than in patients without metastases.

The world literature on this subject is reviewed.