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J Urol. 1991 Jan;145(1):20-3; discussion 23-4.

Surgical management and prognosis of renal cell carcinoma invading the vena cava.

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Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710.


A total of 44 patients with renal cell carcinoma and vena caval tumor thrombus underwent surgical resection. Of these patients 27 had primary tumor confined within Gerota's fascia, negative lymph nodes and no distant metastases (stage T3cN0M0). Patients who underwent extraction of a mobile tumor thrombus from the vena cava had a 69% 5-year survival rate (median 9.9 years) but patients with tumor thrombus directly invading the vena cava had a 26% 5-year survival rate (median 1.2 years), which improved to 57% (median 5.3 years) if the involved vena caval side wall was resected successfully. Of these patients 17 had renal cell carcinoma with vena caval thrombus as well as extrafascial extension, regional lymphadenopathy or distant metastases, and the 5-year survival rate was less than 18% in all groups (median survival less than 0.9 years). Prognosis was determined by the pathological stage of the renal cell carcinoma and by the presence or absence of vena caval side wall invasion but not by the level of tumor thrombus extension. Patients with incomplete resection of localized renal cell carcinoma with tumor thrombus do not survive any longer than those with extensive cancer, positive lymph nodes or distant metastases. However, when partial venacavectomy establishes negative surgical margins then survival markedly improves.

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