From the Journals

Immunotherapy enables nephrectomy with good outcomes in advanced RCC



Some patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can safely undergo nephrectomy and experience favorable surgical outcomes and pathologic responses, a cohort study suggests.

“The introduction of several novel classes of systemic therapies, including targeted therapies and most recently ICI, has revolutionized the management of metastatic RCC over the last decade,” noted the investigators, who were led by Nirmish Singla, MD, from the department of urology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. “With these new therapies, the role of nephrectomy in the treatment paradigm for advanced RCC has continued to evolve.”

The investigators undertook a single-center retrospective cohort study, assessing outcomes of 11 nephrectomies (10 radical, 1 partial) in 10 patients with advanced RCC who had received ICIs. Half had received nivolumab (Opdivo) alone, while the other half had received nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy); in six patients, these therapies were given first line.

Study results reported in Urologic Oncology showed that, at the time of nephrectomy, the patients had a median age of 64 years, with a range from 41 years to 83 years. Surgery was performed laparoscopically in five cases, and four patients had a concomitant thrombectomy.

The median operative time was 180 minutes, and the median estimated blood loss was 100 mL. None of the patients experienced major intraoperative complications. Four experienced postoperative complications; in three, they were addressed with interventional radiology procedures. The median length of stay was 4 days.

Pathology findings showed that one patient achieved a response to immunotherapy in the primary tumor (pT0), and three of four patients who underwent resection of hepatic, pulmonary, or adrenal metastases had no detectable cancer (pM0). All surgical margins were negative.

During a median postoperative follow-up of 180 days, one patient died of progressive disease more than 3 months after surgery, and another died of pulmonary embolism complicated by sepsis. Six patients did not have any complications or readmissions.

“In our experience, nephrectomy following ICI for RCC is both safe and technically feasible. Surgical and postoperative outcomes are encouraging, and pathologic response to ICI is strikingly favorable in both the primary tumor and metastatic sites,” Dr. Singla and coinvestigators wrote. “Biopsies of lesions responding radiographically to ICIs should be considered prior to surgical excision.”

“As multimodal management in the immunotherapy era continues to evolve, the utility and timing of nephrectomy combined with ICI in selected patients warrants further study,” they conclude.

Dr. Singla disclosed that he had no relevant conflicts of interest. The study did not receive any specific funding.

SOURCE: Singla N et al. Urol Oncol. 2019 Sep 12. doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2019.08.012.

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