Results from Phase 2 clinical trial aim to set new paradigm of treatment for metastatic kidney cancer

August 21, 2022
Radiation, Clinical Trial

A phase 2 clinical trial spearheaded by UT Southwestern Kidney Cancer Program researchers reported that stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SAbR) effectively targets and treats oligometastatic kidney cancer while minimizing the negative impact on patients’ quality of life. 

With over 400,000 new cases of kidney cancer diagnosed worldwide each year and 30% of all patients developing metastases, finding effective treatment options for oligometastatic kidney cancer is of utmost importance. Currently, there is no established standard treatment for this specific form of the disease, characterized by metastases at fewer than 5 sites. Most patients are subjected to immunotherapeutic or targeted drugs, which can cause systemic toxicity and lead to adverse effects that significantly reduce their quality of life. 

Building upon pioneering efforts at UT Southwestern Kidney Cancer Program with SAbR  —a precise radiation therapy technique that employs targeted, narrow beams directed at tumor sites— researchers initiated a phase 2 clinical trial. This trial, led by Raquibul Hannan, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Genitourinary Radiation Therapy Service, Robert Timmerman, M.D., Chair of Radiation Oncology, and James Brugarolas, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Kidney Cancer Program, aimed to evaluate the efficacy of SAbR in controlling oligometastatic disease without the need for systemic therapy. Remarkably, 90% of the trial participants achieved metastatic disease control for over a year without any systemic therapy, and none reported serious side effects or a negative impact on their quality of life. 

Building upon this and other similar results, the National Cancer Institute is funding a phase 3 clinical trial that aims to compare SAbR to medication therapy for patients with oligometastatic kidney cancer. Led by  

Dr. Hannan said, if successful, the phase 3 trial will establish a standard of care for patients with oligometastatic kidney cancer for the first time.  

Additional trials, also led by Dr. Hannan, aim to further establish the effectiveness of SAbR as a treatment for oligoprogressive kidney cancer and tumor thrombi that have spread to the inferior vena cava.  

The Kidney Cancer Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center is one of only two NCI-designated Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) in kidney cancer. Established in 2013, the program has become one of the largest kidney cancer efforts worldwide.