Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is very rare and aggressive subtype of kidney cancer, accounting for 1% of all kidney cancers. It mostly affects young people with sickle cell disease. Most people with RMC are black males. Because it is difficult to diagnose in the early stages, it spreads before diagnosis and survival is poor (on average about 7 and a half months). There are few treatment options for these patients.
A recent study with 32 patients may have discovered a link between a protein called CA-125 levels in the blood and RMC and response to treatment. CA-125 is a biomarker for ovarian cancer. CA-125 levels were raised in patients with RMC that had spread (metastatic RMC). CA-125 levels also changed with the patient’s treatment: it dipped when the patient was in remission and increased during side effects. Furthermore, the patient’s CA-125 level increased shortly before the patient died of their disease.
Further studies are needed to establish CA-125 as a biomarker for RMC.