Summary— Fifty-four patients with renal cancer and vena cava tumour thrombus underwent radical nephrectomy and removal of the thrombus; the operative mortality rate was 9.3% (5 patients). The extent of the vena cava thrombus did not affect survival.
Of 36 patients with no known pre-operative metastases and complete (29 patients) and incomplete (7 patients) removal of the vena cava tumour thrombus, the 5-year survival rate was 68 and 17%, respectively (P=0.01). Thirteen patients (45%) who underwent complete removal of the vena cava tumour thrombus are alive and free of disease, with a mean follow-up of 51.2 months (range 4–144); three died without disease 110, 31 and 23 months after operation.
The 2-year and 5-year survival rates of 18 patients with known pre-operative metastases was 37.5 and 12.5% respectively; 14 died between 1 and 27 months post-operatively (mean 11.6) of metastatic disease. Two of these 18 patients experienced long-term remission: one died of unrelated causes 151 months after operation; the other was lost to follow-up 219 months after operation, with no evidence of disease. Of 14 patients with positive regional nodes, the mean survival in those with metastases compared with those without metastases was 7.5 versus 15 months, respectively; only one patient survived at 14 months.
Operative intervention in patients without metastatic disease (systemic or regional) and complete removal of the vena cava thrombus achieved a 5-year survival rate of 68%. Variables which significantly decreased survival and may be considered contraindications for operation were systemic metastasis, regional lymph node involvement and incomplete removal of the vena cava thrombus.