Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Rapidly Progressive to Sunitinib: What to Do Next?

Melissa Bersanelli, Roberto Iacovelli, Sebastiano Buti, Nadine Houede, Brigitte Laguerre, Giuseppe Procopio, Stéphanie Lheureux, R. Fischer, Sylvie Negrier, Alain Ravaud, Stéphane Oudard, Bernard Escudier, Laurence Albiges, Camillo Porta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: From 10% to 26% of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) experience rapidly progressive disease (PD) on treatment with sunitinib. Objective: To investigate the benefit of subsequent treatment with another tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) or a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor in such primary refractory patients. Design, setting, and participants: A total of 150 mRCC patients with rapidly PD on first-line sunitinib (within two cycles, n = 93, or four cycles, n = 57) were identified: median age 59 yr; nephrectomy 86%; histological subtypes: clear cell (77.8%), papillary (14%), and sarcomatoid features (18%); according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and French classifications: good risk (11% and 7%, respectively), intermediate (68% and 63%, respectively), and poor (21% and 29%, respectively). Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Data were retrospectively collected by a questionnaire from 19 European oncology centers between March 2005 and March 2011. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were calculated (Kaplan-Meier method). Results and limitations: Median OS from the start of first-line treatment was 7.4 mo. Second-line treatment was administered to 86 (57%) patients (44 mTOR inhibitors: 23 everolimus and 21 temsirolimus; 39 TKIs alone or in combination; three chemotherapy). Second-line PFS was not significantly different between TKIs and mTOR inhibitors (2.0 vs 0.9 mo; p = 0.536). Median OS from the start of second-line treatment was 5.0 mo for mTOR inhibitors and 6.6 mo for TKIs (p = 0.15). Conclusions: Treatment with further TKIs or mTOR inhibitors for mRCC patients primarily refractory to first-line sunitinib in the observed time period achieved very minimal benefit, suggesting avoiding TKI rechallenge and possibly preferring alternative strategies, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, after PD to a treatment line including a TKI in this setting. Patient summary: The present work collected data about 150 patients affected by metastatic renal cell carcinoma, who received one of the current standard of care as first-line treatment, namely, the antiangiogenic drug sunitinib, and experienced rapid worsening of the disease. We investigated and described the subsequent outcome of such patients treated with two different types of drug, administered as second-line therapy, to better understand the best strategy to adopt for patients who got no benefit from sunitinib and to describe the current therapeutic approach in such cases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean urology oncology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Primary refractory
  • Primary resistance
  • Rapidly progressive
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Sunitinib
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Surgery


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