(RxWiki News) Up until now, knowing the outlook or prognosis for kidney cancer patients has been difficult to determine. Scientists have found that a routine blood test can predict the course of the disease and help make better treatment decisions.
Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have discovered that measuring lymphocyte counts is an easy and effective way to predict the course of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Lymphocytes are infection-fighting white blood cells that are measured in routine lab tests.
"Common blood test can predict future for kidney cancer patients."
RCC patients with low lymphocyte levels generally have a worse prognosis.
"This simple test can really help us identify patients at the outset who are at risk of very aggressive disease and who may not do well with current therapies," said Sunil Saroha, MD, medical oncology fellow at Fox Chase and lead author on the study.
He continues, "For example, if a young RCC patient has a low lymphocyte count but is otherwise healthy, a doctor may decide to pursue more aggressive therapies, such as surgery and chemotherapy."
Patients who are older and have other health concerns may not do so well with convential therapies, and doctors may decide on a wait and see approach instead immediately performing surgery.
"The test may help individualize therapies, change clinical decisions and add therapies before or after the surgery," Saroha says.
The study analyzed data from more than 500 patients with the most common form of RCC (clear cell RCC) who had their kidneys surgically removed at Fox Chase between 1994 and 2009.
Lower lymphocyte levels were linked with: higher tumor grade and stage; spread (metasisis) to different places in the body; and spread to regional lymph nodes.
Low white blood cell counts were also associated with a poor survival rates, even when other risk factors were taken into account.