When personalized treatment plans make sense for kidney cancer patients

Personalized treatment plans can benefit early-stage kidney cancer patients, according to a new study published in Radiology.

While renal tumors are typically treated with a surgical procedure, partial nephrectomy, it is not always the best option for patients with certain risk factors or when the tumor is benign. Active surveillance could help in such instances, but specialists lack the tools to make such decisions. That’s where the study’s authors came in, developing a computer-based simulation that accounts for key variables instead and can help providers select the best possible treatment option.

“We need a better way of weighing the risks, so that more patients can be considered for non-surgical management,” author Stella K. Kang, MD, MS, assistant professor of radiology and population health at NYU Langone Health in New York City, said in a prepared statement.

The computer-based program explore the impact of different treatment plans and, based on 1 million simulations, determined that partial nephrectomy results in the longest life expectancy for patients with normal renal function. In patients with chronic kidney disease, however, a personalized strategy such as active surveillance benefits the patient more than partial nephrectomy. In addition, the simulation determined that using MRI to predict papillary renal cell carcinoma could improve outcomes for some patients.

“There is probably a larger proportion of patients with small renal tumors who merit a fuller discussion of options than is currently recognized,” Kang said in the same statement. “While the model does not prescribe one specific treatment, it does provide a set of estimates so that patients and providers can get more information on the viable options.”