Purpose of review
Cytoreductive nephrectomy has had a variable role in the management of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) through the different systemic therapy eras. Initially felt to be beneficial with interferon, the utility of cytoreductive nephrectomy was called into question in the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) era. However, with the advent of immunotherapy for metastatic RCC, the role of cytoreductive nephrectomy continues to be debated. This study sought to evaluate the recent literature and discuss cytoreductive nephrectomy within the context of an improved systemic therapy era.
The literature that exists on the use of cytoreductive nephrectomy with immunotherapy is retrospective in nature and largely derived from large, institutional databases. Although smaller, single-institution articles exist and provide more granular data, issues concerning selection bias and unmeasured confounders persist. Overall, the available studies demonstrate that patient selection is paramount, and cytoreductive nephrectomy should be reserved for patients with no more than one risk factor, those requiring palliation of local symptoms and for those patients with stable, low volume disease or with a complete response following systemic therapy exposure.
The optimal use of cytoreductive nephrectomy in metastatic RCC remains unclear, but certain subgroups of patients, on evaluation of post hoc and retrospective data, seem to benefit from surgical intervention.