We reviewed the literature on adjuvant therapies for patients with high risk localized kidney cancer following surgical resection. In this analysis we merge 2 recently published prospective trials with conflicting results within the context of their respective designs. In addition, we spotlight upcoming trials that use novel immunotherapy based checkpoint inhibitors and have the potential to establish a new standard of care.
We searched PubMed®for English language articles published through January 2017 using the keywords "renal cell carcinoma," "kidney cancer," "immunotherapy," "targeted therapy" and "adjuvant therapy." ClinicalTrials.gov was queried for ongoing studies. Relevant data recently presented at major urology and medical oncology meetings are also included.
Adjuvant therapies for high risk localized kidney cancer can be grouped into the categories of 1) traditional immunotherapy, 2) inhibitors of the vascular endothelial growth factor and mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathways, 3) vaccines and antibody dependent cytotoxic agents, and 4) immune checkpoint inhibitors. Several trials of traditional immunotherapy, such as interferon-α and high dose interleukin-2, failed to demonstrate benefit as adjuvant treatment and were associated with significant adverse events. Vascular endothelial growth factor and mTOR inhibitors have less severe toxicity in metastatic disease and, therefore, are natural considerations for adjuvant trials. However, current data are conflicting. The ASSURE (Sunitinib Malate or Sorafenib Tosylate in Treating Patients with Kidney Cancer that was Removed by Surgery, NCT00326898) trial found no recurrence-free survival benefit of sorafenib or sunitinib over placebo, while S-TRAC (Clinical Trial Comparing Efficacy and Safety of Sunitinib versus Placebo for the Treatment of Patients at High Risk of Recurrent Renal Cell Cancer, NCT00375674) revealed that 1 year of sunitinib improved recurrence-free survival by 1.2 years. Vaccine based treatments and antibody dependent cytotoxic agents have had mixed results. New trials evaluating immune checkpoint inhibitors are planned, given the impressive efficacy and tolerability as second line agents in metastatic disease. Future adjuvant trials are likely to be guided by molecular signatures to treat patients most likely to benefit.
Based on the available data, there appears to be no role for traditional immunotherapy as adjuvant treatment in patients with high risk localized kidney cancer following surgical resection. S-TRAC provides evidence that 1 year of adjuvant sunitinib in patients with higher risk locoregional disease increases the median time to recurrence. However, the data on overall survival are immature and adverse effects are common. Results from trials investigating immune checkpoint inhibitors are highly anticipated.
The Journal of urology. 2017 May 04 [Epub]
Andrew T Lenis, Nicholas M Donin, David C Johnson, Izak Faiena, Amirali Salmasi, Alexandra Drakaki, Arie Belldegrun, Allan Pantuck, Karim Chamie
Institute of Urologic Oncology, Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California., Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California., Institute of Urologic Oncology, Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. Electronic address: .