Diagnosing primary and metastatic renal cell carcinoma: the use of the monoclonal antibody 'Renal Cell Carcinoma Marker'

Am J Surg Pathol. 2001 Dec;25(12):1485-92. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200112000-00003.


The diagnosis of primary or metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) can be difficult, especially in small biopsies, because of the wide variety of histologic appearances and clinical presentations that RCC can assume. An immunomarker specific for RCC is currently not available. We tested the relevant diagnostic use of the Renal Cell Carcinoma Marker (RCC Ma), a monoclonal antibody, against a normal human proximal tubular brush border antigen. Immunostaining using RCC Ma and the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex technique was performed on archival tissues from primary and metastatic tumors of renal or nonrenal origin. A total of 122 of 153 primary RCCs (79.7%) were positive [clear cell (84%), papillary (96%), chromophobe (45%), sarcomatoid (25%), and collecting duct (0%)], with > or =10% of tumor cells stained in 93% of cases. None of the 64 primary renal tumors other than RCC, including 15 oncocytomas, was positive. Fifteen of 146 (10.2%) nonrenal primary tumors were positive (5 of 17 breast tumors, 8 of 8 parathyroid adenomas, and 2 of 7 embryonal carcinomas). Forty-two of 63 (67%) metastatic RCCs were positive with > or =10% of cells being stained in 83% of them. Two of 108 (2%) metastases from tumors other than RCCs were positive, both of which were metastatic breast carcinomas; however, only 10% (2 of 19) of metastatic breast carcinomas were positive. RCC Ma is an excellent marker for primary RCC, which should facilitate its diagnosis in a small biopsy. Although RCC Ma remains highly specific (98%) for metastatic RCC, a negative result may not rule out metastatic RCC because of a rather low sensitivity and a focal staining pattern in some of the positive cases. RCC Ma may also facilitate the differential diagnosis between oncocytoma and other types of RCC when they are composed mostly of eosinophilic cells.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / secondary
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / immunology
  • Male


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor