A study looking at giving biological therapy before surgery for advanced kidney cancer (SuMR)

Cancer type:

Kidney cancer




Phase 2

This study looked at starting sunitinib before surgery to find out if this improved the treatment for advanced kidney cancer.

Doctors usually treat kidney cancer that has spread with a biological therapy. You may also have surgery before this. So, if you were going to have surgery, you would not start biological therapy straight away. In other cancers, having treatment that reaches your whole body (systemic treatment Open a glossary item) before surgery can be helpful. So researchers wanted to find out if the same is true for advanced kidney cancer.

Sunitinib is a type of biological therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). TKIs block tyrosine kinase which is a chemical messenger (an enzyme) that sends messages to tell cells to divide and grow. Blocking the effect of tyrosine kinase may stop cancer cells growing.

The aim of this study was to see if having sunitinib before surgery helped people with advanced kidney cancer.

Summary of results

The trial team found that having sunitinib before surgery for advanced kidney cancer is safe and might be a useful treatment.

The trial recruited 33 people with advanced kidney cancer. After 16 weeks of sunitinib

  • 3 people had cancer that had shrunk
  • 20 people had cancer that had stayed the same size
  • In 8 people, the cancer had got bigger

The trial team were unable to collect information about 2 people.

Of the 33 people in the trial, 21 had surgery to remove their kidney (nephrectomy) following sunitinib. Reasons for not having a nephrectomy included

  • Patient choice
  • The kidney cancer got worse
  • They were not well enough to have surgery

Researchers found that having sunitinib before surgery did not increase the chance of problems after surgery.   

At the time this paper was written in 2010, the average length of time before the cancer started to grow again (progression free survival) was just over 8 months.

The research team concluded that sunitinib before surgery might be useful for advanced kidney cancer, but that more trials are needed.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Thomas Powles

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Orchid Cancer Appeal
Queen Mary University of London

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 2593

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Nilesh was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011

A picture of Nilesh

“I was really pleased to take part in a clinical trial.”

Last reviewed:

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