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Urology. 1995 Jan;45(1):34-40; discussion 40-1.

Management of small unilateral renal cell carcinomas: radical versus nephron-sparing surgery.

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Department of Urology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio, USA.



There is controversy concerning the management of small unilateral renal cell carcinomas. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the relative efficacy of radical nephrectomy versus nephron-sparing surgery in such patients.


Patients with a single, small (less than 4 cm), localized, unilateral, sporadic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) were identified from an institutional registry. From 1975 to 1992, 88 patients fulfilling these criteria were treated with either radical nephrectomy (n = 42) or nephron-sparing surgery (n = 46). The mean postoperative follow-up interval is 48 +/- 29 months.


The radical and nephron-sparing surgical groups were well matched for patient age, sex, renal function, diabetes, hypertension, tumor size, tumor location, and tumor stage. All patients in both groups had low pathologic stage RCC. There was no difference between the two groups in terms of the mean hospital stay, the requirement for blood transfusions, or the occurrence of surgical complications. There was no difference in the mean preoperative and postoperative serum creatinine levels for patients in the nephron-sparing surgery group. However, the mean postoperative serum creatinine levels were significantly higher than the mean preoperative levels for patients in the radical nephrectomy group (P < 0.001). A single patient in each group developed recurrent RCC postoperatively. The cancer-specific 5-year survival rate for patients in the radical and nephron-sparing surgical groups is 97% and 100%, respectively.


Radical nephrectomy and nephron-sparing surgery each provide safe and effective curative treatment for patients with a single, small, unilateral localized RCC. The long-term renal functional advantage of nephron-sparing surgery in this setting is not established.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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