Objective: To characterize the incidence and clinicopathologic factors associated with late recurrence after surgical resection for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) because the recurrence patterns >5 years after nephrectomy have been poorly described. Methods: We identified 1454 patients treated with nephrectomy for localized RCC from 1970 to 2000 who had remained free of disease for 5 years. Subsequent tumor recurrence was classified as renal recurrence and distant metastasis. The incidence of recurrence >5 years from surgery was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. The associations of clinicopathologic variables with late recurrence were analyzed using Cox proportional hazard regression models. Results: With a median postoperative follow-up of 13.9 years (range 5.1-38.9), 63 patients (4.3%) experienced late renal recurrence at a median of 9.3 years (range 5.1-25.3), and 172 patients (11.8%) developed late distant metastases at a median of 9.6 years (range 5.1-26.6) after surgery. The estimated recurrence-free survival rate at 10 and 15 years was 97.3% and 95.2% for renal recurrence, and 93.1% and 85.9% for distant metastases, respectively. On multivariate analysis, increased tumor size (hazard ratio [HR] 1.12; P <.001) was associated with late renal tumor recurrence, and increased tumor size (HR 1.07; P =.018), clear cell or collecting duct histologic features (HR 3.76; P <.001), and tumor Stage pT1b (HR 2.8; P <.001), pT2a (HR 4.5; P <.001), pT2b (HR 3.4; P =.007), and pT3-pT4 (HR 5.1; P <.001) were associated with distant metastasis. Conclusion: After an initial 5-year postoperative disease-free interval, approximately 5% and 15% of patients will develop renal recurrence and distant metastases, respectively, during the next decade. Therefore, long-term surveillance remains necessary after nephrectomy.
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