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Adjuvant therapy for locally advanced renal cell cancer: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Adolfo JO Scherr, Joao Paulo SN Lima, Emma C Sasse, Carmen SP Lima and André D Sasse*

Author Affiliations

CEVON - Centro de Evidências em Oncologia UNICAMP - Universidade Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:115  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-115

Published: 31 March 2011



Many adjuvant trials have been undertaken in an attempt to reduce the risk of recurrence among patients who undergo surgical resection for locally advanced renal cancer. However, no clear benefit has been identified to date. This systematic review was conducted to examine the exact role of adjuvant therapy in renal cancer setting.


Randomized controlled trials were searched comparing adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy, vaccine, immunotherapy, biochemotherapy) versus no active treatment after surgery among renal cell cancer patients. Outcomes were overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), and severe toxicities. Risk ratios (RR), hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using a fixed-effects meta-analysis. Heterogeneity was measured by I2. Different strategies of adjuvant treatment were evaluated separately.


Ten studies (2,609 patients) were included. Adjuvant therapy provided no benefits in terms of OS (HR 1.07; 95%CI 0.89 to 1.28; P = 0.48 I2 = 0%) or DFS (HR 1.03; 95%CI 0.87 to 1.21; P = 0.77 I2 = 15%) when compared to no treatment. No subgroup analysis (immunotherapy, vaccines, biochemotherapy and hormone therapy) had relevant results. Toxicity evaluation depicted a significantly higher frequency of serious adverse events in the adjuvant group.


This analysis provided no support for the hypothesis that the agents studied provide any clinical benefit for renal cancer patients although they increase the risk of toxic effects. Randomized trials are underway to test targeted therapies, which might open a new therapeutic frontier. Until these trials yield results, no adjuvant therapy can be recommended for patients who undergo surgical resection for renal cell cancer.

Antineoplastic agents; drug therapy; renal cell carcinoma; meta-analysis