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renal cell carcinoma, sunitinib, resistance, kidney cancer
Of the many targeted therapies introduced since 2006, sunitinib has carved its way to become the most commonly used first-line therapy for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Despite significant improvements in progression-free survival, 30% of the patients are intrinsically resistant to sunitinib and the remaining 70% who respond initially will eventually become resistant in 6–15 months. While the molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to sunitinib have been unravelling at a rapid rate, the mechanisms of intrinsic resistance remain elusive. Combination therapy, sunitinib-rechallenge and sequential therapy have been investigated as means to overcome resistance to sunitinib. Of these, sequential therapy appears to be the most promising strategy. This mini review summarises our emerging understanding of the molecular mechanisms, and the strategies employed to overcome sunitinib resistance.