Study questions treatment of small kidney cancers

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 16, 2006

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The number of kidney cancers detected and treated has increased, but so has the death rate from this disease, according to a study published in the Sept. 20 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"With increased early detection and treatment of small tumors, we would expect to see a decrease in mortality associated with kidney cancer," said Brent K. Hollenbeck, MD, senior author and assistant professor of urology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Researchers analyzed data on 34,503 kidney cancer patients gathered by the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. The age-adjusted incident rate for this carcinoma increased from 7.1 cases per 100,000 people in 1983 to 10.8 in 2002, and this increase was caused primarily by the increase in detection of small tumors. Surgery for this disease increased at a similar rate, but mortality increased from 1.5 deaths per 100,000 in 1983 to 6.5 in 2002.

The authors say these numbers suggest that current treatment strategies, particularly for small renal masses, need re-evaluation.

"This calls to question the effectiveness of our current treatment strategy," said John M. Hollingsworth, MD, lead author and a fifth-year surgery resident. "Perhaps there are some patients with small kidney tumors for whom surgery is not the best option."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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