Functional health may be a strong predictor of long-term survival in older patients with kidney cancer, according to a study published in Cancer.1

Researchers led by Hung-Jui Tan, MD, MSHPM, of the University at Chapel Hill looked at 28,326 elderly patients with primary kidney cancer through the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database who were quantified for function using function-related indicators.

They used competing risk regression in order to examine the relationship between function-related indicator count and cause-specific mortality upon adjusting for patient and cancer characteristics.

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In total, 13,619 of the observed patients were found to have at least 1 function-related indicator. Higher indicator category was found to be associated with older age, greater comorbidity, female sex, unmarried status, lower socioeconomic status, and higher disease stage.

Patients with an indicator count of 1 or at least 2 were found to have a higher rate of other-cause mortality compared to those with an indicator count of 0. Kidney cancer mortality was found to vary minimally with patient function.

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Upon using generalized estimating equations, the researchers also found that patients with at least 2 indicators received cancer-directed surgery less often than those without disability. However, treatment probabilities remained high for those patients with locoregional disease and low for those with metastatic cancer.


  1. Tan J, Chamie K, Daskivich T, et al. Patient function, long-term survival, and use of surgery in patients with kidney cancer. Cancer. 2016 Aug 12. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30275. [Epub ahead of print]