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A recent study published in the journal European Urology investigated the long-term risk of recurrence in people who had had a nephrectomy for the treatment of localised renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in order to determine the usefulness of long-term follow-up (surveillance).
A retrospective analysis of 1943 patients who took part in the ECOG E2805 clinical trial was performed. The analysis showed that recurrence of RCC at 3, 4 and 5 years following surgery was 16%, 19%, and 20%, respectively. The stage and grade of the cancer were independent predictors of recurrence at the earlier time points up to 4 years; however, at 5 years post-surgery this was not the case.
However, it is important to note that this study only included patients with intermediate to high risk RCC; it did not include patients with lower-risk RCC, where the recurrence rate is presumably smaller. There is also no assessment or discussion of any therapeutic or survival advantage to ongoing surveillance.
In conclusion, follow-up of people with surgically-resected localised RCC should be performed beyond 5 years, as the rates of recurrence remain significant beyond this.