|May 23, 2000
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters Health) - New research released here Monday
shows that surgically removing a cancerous kidney and then following
up with interleukin-2 (IL-2) or interferon therapy increases cancer
patients' survival by as much as 4 months.
The finding is so significant that it is expected to change how
physicians treat kidney cancer, researchers report.
"Based on this work, conducted at multiple centers and with
hundreds of patients, there should be a substantial shift toward
both surgery and the use of biologic agents in the treatment of
advanced renal cancer," according to Dr. Robert Flanigan, lead
investigator of the study and an oncologist at the Loyola University
Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois.
"This is the first randomized trial to show that removal of the
kidney in the face of biological therapy increases survival," he
Flanigan presented his research at the American Society for
Clinical Oncology's 36th Annual Meeting.
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 31,200
new kidney cancer cases this year in the US, and 11,900 deaths.
In the study, 243 patients were randomly assigned to receive
either immediate interferon therapy or a kidney removal followed by
interferon. Patients received interferon three times a week until
their disease worsened.
Patients receiving interferon alone lived an average 8.1 months,
while those having kidney removal and drug therapy lived just over a
Surprisingly, kidney removal has not been a common treatment for
the cancer in the past. Flanigan said earlier studies had shown no
real advantage to the surgery, but he thinks that is mostly because
biological agents like interferon and IL-2 were not previously
IL-2 is the only approved drug therapy for kidney cancer, and is
more commonly used than interferon. The researcher said he expects
his study results will be the same when physicians use surgery and