First-line Treatment of Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis

Andrew W. Hahn, Zachary Klaassen, Neeraj Agarwal, Benjamin Haaland, John Esther, Xiang Y. Ye, Xuechen Wang, Sumanta K. Pal, Christopher J.D. Wallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: No head-to-head clinical trials compare contemporary first-line therapies for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). A network meta-analysis provides an approach for quantitative analysis. OBJECTIVE: To indirectly compare the efficacy and safety of first-line treatments for mRCC in the intention-to-treat (ITT) population and by clinical risk group. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: An updated systematic review from database inception to February 17, 2019 identified all parallel-group randomized controlled trials assessing first-line therapy for mRCC. "Clinically relevant" studies were selected for a network meta-analysis. Progression-free survival (PFS) was the primary outcome. Overall survival (OS), overall response rate (ORR), and grade 3 and 4 adverse events (AEs) were secondary outcomes. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: We identified 12 relevant trials: 12 reported outcomes for PFS, nine for OS, 10 for ORR, and nine for AEs. In the ITT population, cabozantinib (surface under the cumulative ranking curves [SUCRA] 84%), avelumab plus axitinib (SUCRA 68%), and pembrolizumab plus axitinib (SUCRA 82%) were superior to the other agents for PFS; pembrolizumab plus axitinib appeared superior for OS (SUCRA 95%); and atezolizumab demonstrated the lowest likelihood of AEs (SUCRA 100%). Findings were similar in the intermediate/poor-risk subgroup. Based on the limited data available, avelumab plus axitinib may be preferred in patients with favorable-risk disease. CONCLUSIONS: The optimal first-line treatment for mRCC appears to differ by efficacy endpoint, toxicity, and clinical risk group. Direct comparative studies remain important in guiding treatment choice. PATIENT SUMMARY: Head-to-head comparisons do not exist for the newest treatments of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). In an indirect comparison, we found that pembrolizumab plus axitinib and cabozantinib are good options for most patients with mRCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-715
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Urology Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Avelumab
  • First line
  • International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Metastatic renal cell carcinoma
  • Network meta-analysis
  • Pembrolizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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