The optimal follow-up (FU) strategy for patients treated for localised renal cell carcinoma (RCC) remains unclear. Using the RECUR database, we studied imaging intensity utilised in contemporary FU to evaluate its association with outcome after detection of disease recurrence. Consecutive patients with nonmetastatic RCC (n = 1612) treated with curative intent at 12 institutes across eight European countries between 2006 and 2011 were included. Recurrence occurred in 336 patients. Cross-sectional (computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging) and conventional (chest X-ray, ultrasound) methods were used in 47% and 53%, respectively. More intensive FU imaging (more than twofold) than recommended by the European Association of Urology (EAU) was not associated with improved overall survival (OS) after recurrence. Overall, per patient treated for recurrence remaining alive with no evidence of disease, the number of FU images needed was 542, and 697 for high-risk patients. The study results suggest that use of more imaging during FU than that recommended in the 2017 EAU guidelines is unlikely to improve OS after recurrence. Prospective studies are needed to design optimal FU strategies for the future.
After curative treatment for localised kidney cancer, follow-up is necessary to detect any recurrence. This study illustrates that increasing the imaging frequency during follow-up, even to double the number of follow-up imaging procedures recommended by the European Association of Urology guidelines, does not translate into improved survival for those with recurrence.