Spectrum of epithelial neoplasms in end-stage renal disease: An experience from 66 tumor-bearing kidneys with emphasis on histologic patterns distinct from those in sporadic adult renal neoplasia

Satish K. Tickoo, Mariza N. DePeralta-Venturina, Lara R. Harik, Heath D. Worcester, Mohamed E. Salama, Andrew N. Young, Holger Moch, Mahul B. Amin

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327 Scopus citations


Most (up to 71%) of renal cell neoplasms occurring in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), particularly with acquired cystic disease of the kidney (ACDK), have been reported to be papillary renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Our initial experience with tumors in such a setting indicated that many tumors were histologically difficult to classify into the known subtypes of RCC or had features that were different from those in sporadically occurring RCCs. In this study on 66 ESRD kidneys (52 of which showed features of ACDK) removed because tumors were detected in them, we found two major groups of RCC. Overall, there were 261 grossly identified tumors in these kidneys, and many additional tumors were observed on microscopic evaluation in some. Of the two major groups of RCCs, one consisted of tumors similar to those seen in sporadic settings (ie, clear-cell, papillary, and chromophobe RCC), and these formed the dominant mass in 12 (18%), 10 (15%), and 5 (8%) of the 66 kidneys, respectively. The other group consisted of two subtypes of RCC that appear quite unique to ESRD. The more common tumor that we have designated as "acquired cystic disease-associated RCC" was seen as the dominant mass in 24 (36%) of 66 of the kidneys, and it formed the most common tumor type among the smaller nondominant masses, as well. It was characterized by a typical microcystic architecture, eosinophilic cytoplasm with Fuhrman's grade 3 nuclei, and frequent association with intratumoral oxalate crystals. Additionally, these tumors frequently, but usually focally, exhibited papillary architecture, and clear cytoplasm. These tumors occurred only in kidneys with ACDK, and not in noncystic ESRD. The other category was "clear-cell papillary RCC of the end-stage kidneys," present as the dominant mass in 15 (23%) of the 66 kidneys and occurring in both the ACDK and noncystic ESRD. These predominantly cystic tumors showed prominent papillary architecture with purely clear-cell cytology. Immunohistochemical studies in tumors with histology similar to the known subtypes of sporadic RCC showed immunoprofiles similar to that reported in sporadically occurring tumors. The two subtypes of RCC unique to ESRD had distinctive immunoprofiles supporting their separate morphologic subcategorization. Only the acquired cystic disease-associated RCC showed lymph node metastases in 2 cases and sarcomatoid features in 2 more cases. One of the latter 2 died with widespread metastatic disease within 34 months of nephrectomy. Thus, a broad spectrum of renal cell tumors exist in ESRD, only some of which resemble the sporadic RCCs. Acquired cystic disease-associated RCC is the commonest tumor subtype in ESRD, and biologically it appears to be more aggressive than the other tumor subtypes in ESRD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Acquired cystic disease of kidney
  • Acquired cystic disease-associated renal cell carcinoma
  • Clear-cell papillary renal cell carcinoma of the end-stage kidneys
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Papillary renal cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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