First-Line sunitinib in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) disease: clinical outcome and patterns of radiological response

Anna Roma, Marco Maruzzo, Umberto Basso, Antonella Brunello, Rita Zamarchi, Elisabetta Bezzon, Fabio Pomerri, Stefania Zovato, Giuseppe Opocher, Vittorina Zagonel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) is a rare hereditary condition caused by germline alteration of VHL gene predisposing to renal carcinoma and multiple other tumors. Since acquired dysregulation of VHL-dependent pathways is often present in patients with sporadic RCC treated with the anti-angiogenic drug sunitinib, there is a strong rationale to use the same drug in VHL patients with progressive disease in the kidneys or other sites. Our primary objective was to evaluate the activity of sunitinib in terms of progression-free survival. Secondary objectives: rate of radiological response, patterns of responses in different organs, treatment-related toxicities. We performed a retrospective analysis of sunitinib therapy in genetically-confirmed VHL patients treated at our Institution for multifocal or advanced RCC. From February 2007 to July 2012, 14 VHL patients started first-line sunitinib for recurrent or progressing RCC, mean age 48 years (27–71). Nine patients achieved a partial RECIST response (64.3 %); responses were noted not only in renal and hepatic lesions but also in pancreatic nodules. Most lesions showed density reduction, while all CNS haemangioblastoma lesions remained stable. At a median follow-up of 37 months, six patients have progressed and three patients died, with a progression-free rate at 2 years of 71.4 %. Sunitinib may therefore achieve a fairly good disease control in VHL patients. Radiological responses may be obtained not only in renal tumors but also in synchronous VHL-related lesions, especially pancreatic solid nodules whose exact nature (metastatic RCC or neuroendocrine tumor) cannot be ruled out without invasive biopsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalFamilial Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 13 2014


  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Sunitinib
  • von Hippel–Lindau (VHL)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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