Influence of renal biopsy results on the management of small kidney cancers in older patients: Results from a population-based cohort

Marc A. Bjurlin, Elena B. Elkin, Coral L. Atoria, Paul Russo, Samir S. Taneja, William C. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objective Small kidney cancers are a heterogeneous group with varying malignant potential. Pathologic information obtained from a renal biopsy may guide decision-making for small kidney cancers. We sought to assess the effect of pathologic information from renal biopsy on the nonsurgical management of small kidney cancers in a population-based cohort of patients over 65 years of age. Methods In the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare dataset, we identified patients ≥66 years diagnosed with a kidney cancer<4 cm between 2002 and 2011. Diagnostic biopsy was defined by a Medicare claim within 1 month prior through 6 months following cancer diagnosis or before surgery. Nonsurgical management was defined by the absence of a claim for partial or radical nephrectomy or tumor ablation in the first 6 months following diagnosis. The relationship between patient and tumor characteristics and the likelihood of nonsurgical management by receipt of diagnostic biopsy was assessed by multivariable logistic regression models. Results From 8,933 patients, 2,782 (31%) had a diagnostic renal biopsy of whom 616 (22%) were managed nonsurgically. Controlling for patient, disease, and provider specialty, biopsy was associated with nonsurgical management (adjusted odds ratio = 1.61, 95% Cl: 1.43–1.82) in patients with low-grade tumors but also with more aggressive histology (clear cell renal cell carcinoma). Older age (85+) and geographic region were significantly associated with greater odds of diagnostic biopsy. Patients whose initial renal tumor diagnosis was made by a urologist (vs. other type of provider) were less likely to receive a biopsy (adjust odds ratio = 0.73, 95% Cl: 0.60–0.89). Conclusions Although the use of renal biopsy has increased over time and is associated with the use of nonsurgical management of small kidney cancers, the use of the pathologic findings remains limited. Further advances, particularly with prognostic markers, are necessary before renal biopsy can be routinely implemented for treatment decision-making for small kidney cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604.e1-604.e9
JournalUrologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Management
  • Nonoperative management
  • Renal biopsy
  • Risk stratification
  • Small kidney cancer
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of renal biopsy results on the management of small kidney cancers in older patients: Results from a population-based cohort'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this