A total of 63 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma with the primary kidney tumor in place was accepted as candidates for immunotherapy at the Surgery Branch of the National Cancer Institute. Of the 63 patients 54 underwent nephrectomy and 9 were treated with the primary kidney tumor in place. Many of the patients underwent associated procedures, such as regional lymphadenectomy (11), venacavotomy with extraction of tumor thrombus (9), hepatic resection (2), pulmonary wedge resection (2), cholecystectomy (2), splenectomy (2), distal pancreatectomy (1), omentectomy (1) and contralateral adrenalectomy (1). Of the 54 patients 20 were not able to enter therapy because of tumor-related (17) or other medical (3) reasons that developed between the operation and therapy, while 34 were able to receive immunotherapy postoperatively. The 20 patients who were treated with either high dose interleukin-2 or interleukin-2 plus lymphokine activated killer cells soon postoperatively (mean 2.1 months) were able to tolerate roughly the same amount of interleukin-2 as the 74 who had undergone nephrectomy before referral to our institute and who were treated for a mean of 22 months after nephrectomy. Further studies, including a prospective, randomized trial, will be required to define the role of nephrectomy in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma before treatment with interleukin-2 based immunotherapies.
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