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Cancer. 2009 Feb 15;115(4):776-83. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24051.

A population-based study evaluating the impact of sunitinib on overall survival in the treatment of patients with metastatic renal cell cancer.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Sunitinib has replaced interferon (IFN) as a first-line standard of care in the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). This study aimed to determine overall survival and to confirm effectiveness in a population that includes poor prognosis patients.


Data were collected on all patients identified by the BC Cancer Registry with metastatic RCC who were treated with IFN or sunitinib. The IFN group consisted of patients who received IFN between January 2000 and October 2005, and the sunitinib group included patients treated with first-line sunitinib from October 2005 to September 2007.


There were 131 and 69 patients in the IFN and sunitinib groups, respectively. The median follow-up of those still alive was 12.6 months. The median age (62 vs 63 years; P = .41), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) prognostic criteria (poor in 19% vs 30%; P = .41), and proportion with >1 metastasis (53% vs 62%; P = .21) were similar between the IFN and sunitinib groups, respectively. The median survival of the IFN and sunitinib groups was 8.7 and 17.3 months, respectively (log-rank P = .004). The median survival of patients with favorable, intermediate, and poor MSKCC prognostic profiles in the IFN group was 22.9, 8.7, and 4.1 months, respectively (P < .001), whereas in the sunitinib group it was not reached, 16.8, and 10.7 months, respectively (P = .006). The hazard ratio of death after adjusting for MSKCC criteria was 0.49 (95% confidence interval, 0.31-0.76; P = .001).


The introduction of first-line sunitinib was associated with a doubling of overall survival compared with patients treated with IFN alone. This benefit extended to patients with poor MSKCC prognostic profiles.

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