TUESDAY, April 17, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Kidney cancer patients who have only the tumor removed, not the entire kidney, have higher survival rates, a new study finds.
The research involved more than 7,000 Medicare patients with early-stage kidney cancer who underwent surgery to remove either the entire organ (radical nephrectomy) or only the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue around it (partial nephrectomy).
After an average follow-up of five years, 25 percent of patients who had a partial nephrectomy had died, compared with 42 percent of those who had a radical nephrectomy, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center reported.
The study appears in the April 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"For patients who are candidates for partial nephrectomy, it should be the preferred treatment option. We found that patients who were younger or had preexisting medical conditions benefited most from partial nephrectomy," lead author Dr. Hung-Jui Tan, a urology resident at the U-M Medical School, said in a university news release.
Early-stage kidney cancers are becoming more common and are often discovered by chance when patients receive an X-ray or CT scan for an unrelated condition.
"As more and more people are identified with these small, early-stage cancers, there's more interest in understanding how best to treat these patients," senior study author Dr. David Miller, an assistant professor of urology at the U-M Medical School and member of U-M's Institute for Health Care Policy and Innovation, said in the news release.
"This study does not suggest every patient with early-stage kidney cancer should get a partial nephrectomy. It supports the notion that we need to expand the use of partial nephrectomy and make it a preferred treatment choice for patients with small tumors as much as possible, to optimize long-term survival," Miller noted.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 64,770 people in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year and 13,570 will die from the disease.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about kidney cancer.