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According to results recently presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA), increased levels of survivin are associated with significantly worse survival among patients with renal cell carcinoma.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located on each side of the spine. The kidneys filter the blood and eliminate waste in the urine through a complex system of filtration tubules. All of the blood in the body passes through the kidneys approximately 20 times an hour. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a type of kidney cancer that is most often characterized by the presence of cancer cells in the lining of the filtration tubules of the kidney.

Research continues into identifying specific variables that are associated with differences in outcomes among patients with the same types of cancers. Through identification of these variables, treatments may become individualized and offer the optimal chances for long-term survival.

Survivin is a type of protein that is thought to help cancer cells survive. Researchers from Minnesota evaluated survivin levels and their possible association with outcomes in patients with RCC. This study included 312 patients whose tumors were tested for levels of survivin.

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  • 31.1% of patients had increased levels of survivin.
  • Patients with high levels of survivin were five-times more likely to die from RCC.
  • In a subset of patients in this trial who had early RCC (cancer that had not spread from the kidney), those whose cancers expressed survivin had nearly four times the incidence of their cancer spreading to distant sites in the body and five times the incidence of death from RCC as their counterparts.

The researchers concluded that high levels of survivin are associated with significantly worse survival among patients diagnosed with RCC, even among those with early RCC. Further study is necessary to confirm these findings; however, if confirmed, patients with high levels of survivin may benefit from more aggressive treatment.

Reference: Parker A, et al. High Expression Levels of Survivin Protein are an Independent Predictor of Poor Outcomes Among Patients Treated Surgically for Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma. Proceedings from the 2006 annual meeting of the American Urological Association. Abstract #710.

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