Elderly patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma benefit from targeted therapies

Many elderly patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC)—who are often underrepresented in clinical trials to treat kidney cancer—are seeing overall survival benefits from treatment with targeted therapies. A new study from Penn Medicine researchers published this month in JAMA Network Open analyzed 13 years of data on Medicare patients, and found that the patients who received targeted therapies were more medically complex than those who received the older, more toxic treatments that were available earlier in the study period. The findings indicate that newer treatments can be possible for more people.

Since 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved 12 targeted therapies for the treatment of advanced RCC. However, clinical trials investigating these therapies often exclude sicker patients and those over the age of 65, leaving a gap in knowledge about the effectiveness of newer versus older treatments in this population, especially when they are treated in routine health care settings rather than in research studies.

“Our findings suggest that targeted therapies offered new treatment options to elderly and medically complex patients who may have otherwise foregone the treatments available 15 years ago, given their high toxicity and limited benefit,” says senior author Jalpa A. Doshi, a professor of medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine. “RCC is a cancer where people can often try other treatment options if the first one isn’t effective, so even small gains may mean that a person might live long enough to try the next innovation. What’s more, studies are showing that current treatments, including immunotherapies, are leading to even better outcomes than those that were observed during our study time frame.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.