Elective partial nephrectomy is equivalent to radical nephrectomy in patients with clinical T1 renal cell carcinoma: results of a retrospective, comparative, multi-institutional study


Vincenzo Ficarra, Department of Oncological and Surgical Sciences, Urology Clinic, University of Padua, Monoblocco Ospedaliero, IV floor, Via Giustiniani 2, 35100 Padua, Italy. e-mail: vincenzo.ficarra@unipd.it


Study Type – Therapy (cohort)

Level of Evidence 2b

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

Few studies supported the expanded indications for nephron-sparing surgery (NSS) in selected patients with 4.1 cm renal tumours in the size range (T1b). However, all these comparative studies included both imperative and elective partial nephrectomy and patient selection for analysis was based on pathological stage (pT1) and not on clinical stage (cT1).

Patients with clinically organ-confined RCC (cT1) who are candidates for elective PN have a limited risk of clinical understaging. NSS is not associated with an increased risk of recurrence and cancer-specific mortality both in cT1a and cT1b tumours


  • • To compare the oncological outcomes of patients who underwent elective partial nephrectomy (PN) or radical nephrectomy (RN) for clinically organ-confined renal masses ≤7 cm in size (cT1).


  • • The records of 3480 patients with cT1N0M0 disease were extracted from a multi-institutional database and analyzed retrospectively.


  • • In patients who underwent PN, the risk of clinical understaging was 3.2% in cT1a cases and 10.6% in cT1b cases.
  • • With regard to the cT1a patients, the 5- and 10-year cancer-specific survival (CSS) estimates were 94.7% and 90.4%, respectively, after RN and 96.1% and 94.9%, respectively, after PN (log-rank test: P = 0.01).
  • • With regard to cT1b patients, the 5-year CSS probabilities were 92.6% after RN and 90% after PN, respectively (log-rank test: P = 0.89).
  • • Surgical treatment failed to be an independent predictor of CSS on multivariable analysis, both for cT1a and cT1b patients.
  • • Interestingly, PN was oncologically equivalent to RN also in patients with pT3a tumours (log-rank test: P = 0.91).


  • • Elective PN is not associated with an increased risk of recurrence and cancer-specific mortality in both cT1a and cT1b tumours.
  • • Data from the present study strongly support the use of partial nephrectomy in patients with clinically T1 tumours, according to the current recommendations of the international guidelines.