Extensively necrotic cystic renal cell carcinoma: a clinicopathologic study with comparison to other cystic and necrotic renal cancers

Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Jul;24(7):988-95. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200007000-00010.


Renal cell carcinomas often show varying degrees of necrosis and cystic change. The prognostic importance of necrosis so extensive that only a few tumor cells can be identified is not clear. We gathered clinicopathologic and follow-up data on a group of eight such cases ("type I"). These patients were compared with two other groups of renal cell carcinomas: those with extensive necrosis (>50%), yet with readily identifiable tumor ("type II"), and cancers with extensive cystic change not resulting from necrosis, usually multiloculated ("type III"). The groups showed similar demographic characteristics, and within each group there was great variation in tumor size. Conventional (clear cell) histology was more common than papillary morphology in all groups. The type II neoplasms tended to be of higher nuclear grade and pathologic stage than the other groups. While one of six type I patients with follow up progressed 131 months after diagnosis, eight of 20 type II patients showed progression. None of the six type III patients with follow up progressed. We conclude that renal cell carcinomas showing extensive necrosis are capable of aggressive behavior, and patients with these lesions cannot be assured of cure following surgery. Pathologists must be aware of this entity and extensively sample any renal lesion showing extensive necrosis. The tumors showing a greater amount of viable neoplastic cells yet at least 50% necrosis had a higher rate of progression than did the type I patients. The lack of progression of any of the type III cases supports the idea that type III multiloculated cystic renal cell carcinomas may carry a distinctly better prognosis than other forms of renal cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic / pathology*
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic / surgery
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome