Systematic review of perioperative and quality-of-life outcomes following surgical management of localised renal cancer

Steven MacLennan, Mari Imamura, Marie C. Lapitan, Muhammad Imran Omar, Thomas B. L. Lam, Ana M. Hilvano-Cabungcal, Pam Royle, Fiona Stewart, Graeme MacLennan, Sara J. MacLennan, Philipp Dahm, Steven E. Canfield, Sam McClinton, T. R. Leyshon Griffiths, Börje Ljungberg, James N'Dow, UCAN Systematic Review Reference Group

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For the treatment of localised renal cell carcinoma (RCC), uncertainties remain over the perioperative and quality-of-life (QoL) outcomes for the many different surgical techniques and approaches of nephrectomy. Controversy also remains on whether newer minimally invasive nephron-sparing interventions offer better QoL and perioperative outcomes, and whether adrenalectomy and lymphadenectomy should be performed simultaneously with nephrectomy. These non-oncological outcomes are important because they may have a considerable impact on localised RCC treatment decision making.

To review systematically all the relevant published literature comparing perioperative and QoL outcomes of surgical management of localised RCC (T1–2N0M0).

Evidence acquisition
Relevant databases including Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched up to January 2012. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-randomised controlled trials, prospective observational studies with controls, retrospective matched-pair studies, and comparative studies from well-defined registries/databases were included. The outcome measures were QoL, analgesic requirement, length of hospital stay, time to normal activity level, surgical morbidity and complications, ischaemia time, renal function, blood loss, length of operation, need for blood transfusion, and perioperative mortality. The Cochrane risk of bias tool was used to assess RCTs, and an extended version was used to assess nonrandomised studies (NRSs). The quality of evidence was assessed using Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation.

Evidence synthesis
A total of 4580 abstracts and 380 full-text articles were assessed, and 29 studies met the inclusion criteria (7 RCTs and 22 NRSs). There were high risks of bias and low-quality evidence for studies meeting the inclusion criteria. There is good evidence indicating that partial nephrectomy results in better preservation of renal function and better QoL outcomes than radical nephrectomy regardless of technique or approach. Regarding radical nephrectomy, the laparoscopic approach has better perioperative outcomes than the open approach, and there is no evidence of a difference between the transperitoneal and retroperitoneal approaches. Alternatives to standard laparoscopic radical nephrectomy (LRN) such as hand-assisted, robot-assisted, or single-port techniques appear to have similar perioperative outcomes. There is no good evidence to suggest that minimally invasive procedures such as cryotherapy or radiofrequency ablation have superior perioperative or QoL outcomes to nephrectomy. Regarding concomitant lymphadenectomy during nephrectomy, there were low event rates for complications, and no definitive difference was observed. There was no evidence to base statements about concomitant ipsilateral adrenalectomy during nephrectomy.

Partial nephrectomy results in significantly better preservation of renal function over radical nephrectomy. For tumours where partial nephrectomy is not technically feasible, there is no evidence that alternative procedures or techniques are better than LRN in terms of perioperative or QoL outcomes. In making treatment decisions, perioperative and QoL outcomes should be considered in conjunction with oncological outcomes. Overall, there was a paucity of data regarding QoL outcomes, and when reported, both QoL and perioperative outcomes were inconsistently defined, measured, or reported. The current evidence base has major limitations due to studies of low methodological quality marked by high risks of bias.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1117
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number6
Early online date20 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

UCAN Cancer Charity ( and MacMillan Cancer Charity ( helped design and conduct the study.


  • localised renal cancer
  • perioperative and quality-of-life outcomes
  • radical nephrectomy
  • adrenalectomy
  • lymphadenectomy
  • partial nephrectomy
  • nephron-sparing surgery
  • cryoablation
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • HIFU
  • systematic reviews
  • meta-analysis


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