Radiotherapy for renal cell carcinoma: renaissance of an overlooked approach

Conventional radiotherapy previously had a limited role in the definitive treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), owing to the disappointing outcomes of several trials and the perceived radioresistance of this type of cancer. In this context, radiotherapy has been relegated largely to the palliation of symptoms in patients with metastatic disease, with variable rates of response. Following the availability of newer technologies that enable safe delivery of high-dose radiotherapy, stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) has become increasingly used in patients with RCC. Preclinical evidence demonstrates that RCC cells are sensitive to ablative doses of radiotherapy (≥8-10 Gy). Trials in the setting of intracranial and extracranial oligometastases, as well as primary RCC, have demonstrated excellent tumour control using this approach. Additionally, an awareness of the capacity of high-dose radiation to stimulate antitumour immunity has resulted in novel combinations of SABR with immunotherapies. Here we describe the historical application of conventional radiotherapy, the current biological understanding of the effects of radiation, and the clinical evidence supporting the use of ablative radiotherapy in RCC. We also explore emerging opportunities to combine systemic targeted agents or immunotherapies with radiation. Radiotherapy, although once an overlooked approach, is moving towards the forefront of RCC treatment.

Nature reviews. Urology. 2017 Jun 20 [Epub ahead of print]

Shankar Siva, Gargi Kothari, Alexander Muacevic, Alexander V Louie, Ben J Slotman, Bin S Teh, Simon S Lo

Department of Radiation Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Grattan Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia., European Cyberknife Center, Max-Lebsche-Platz 31, Munich D-81377, Germany., Department of Radiation Oncology, London Health Sciences Centre, 800 Commissioners Road East, PO Box 5010, London, Ontario N6A 5W9, Canada., Radiation Oncology, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan, PO Box 7057, Amsterdam, 1007 MB, Netherlands., Department of Radiation Oncology, Houston Methodist Hospital, 6565 Fannin, Ste#DB1-077, Houston, Texas 77030, USA., Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356043, Seattle, Washington 98195-6043, USA.

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