- Aim of this study was to analyze the prognostic value of age in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC). A group of 15 patients (age < or = 40 years, group I) and a group of 103 patients (age > or = 50 years, group II) with sporadic RCC who underwent radical nephrectomy between 1985 and 1997 were compared. The two groups were analyzed with respect to histologic cell type, tumor grade, stage and outcome. In group I low-stage tumors (stage I and II) were diagnosed in 93% of patients and in group II in 65% of the patients (p = 0.017). High-grade tumors (stage III and IV) were diagnosed in 7% and 35% of patients in group I and group II, respectively (p < 0.01). In group I only one patient (7%) with stage II disease died of cancer. In group II the distribution of cancer-specific mortality was as follows: 6 patients (100%) with stage IV, 13 patients (42%) with stage III, and 12 patients (17%) with stage I and II died of disease. The 5-year-survival in group I was 93% and in group II was 77% (p = 0.05). According to our data we conclude that RCC is diagnosed at a lower stage in young patients than in the older patient group. RCC may exhibit a more favorable prognosis in young patients, possible due to the lower stage at time of diagnosis.