Renal tumors in the Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome

Am J Surg Pathol. 2002 Dec;26(12):1542-52. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200212000-00002.


Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is an autosomal dominant genodermatosis characterized by the development of small dome-shaped papules on the face, neck, and upper trunk (fibrofolliculomas). In addition to these benign hair follicle tumors, BHD confers an increased risk of renal neoplasia and spontaneous pneumothorax. To date, there has been no systematic pathologic analysis of the renal tumors associated with this syndrome. We reviewed 130 solid renal tumors resected from 30 patients with BHD in 19 different families. Preoperative computed tomography scans demonstrated a mean of 5.3 tumors per patient (range 1-28 tumors), the largest tumors averaging 5.7 cm in diameter (+/- 3.4 cm, range 1.2-15 cm). Multiple and bilateral tumors were noted at an early age (mean 50.7 years). The resected tumors consisted predominantly of chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (44 of 130, 34%) or of hybrid oncocytic neoplasms that had areas reminiscent of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma and oncocytoma (65 of 130, 50%). Twelve clear cell (conventional) renal carcinomas (12 of 130, 9%) were diagnosed in nine patients. These tumors were on average larger (4.7 +/- 4.2 cm) than the chromophobe (3.0 +/- 2.5 cm) and hybrid tumors (2.2 +/- 2.4 cm). Microscopic oncocytosis was found in the renal parenchyma of most patients, including the parenchyma of five patients with evidence of clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Our findings suggest that microscopic oncocytic lesions may be precursors of hybrid oncocytic tumors, chromophobe renal cell carcinomas, and perhaps clear cell renal cell carcinomas in patients with BHD syndrome. Recognition by the pathologist of the unusual renal tumors associated with BHD may assist in the clinical diagnosis of the syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / pathology
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Chromosome Disorders / complications*
  • Chromosome Disorders / pathology
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Female
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Skin Diseases, Genetic / complications*
  • Skin Diseases, Genetic / genetics
  • Skin Diseases, Genetic / pathology
  • Syndrome


  • DNA, Neoplasm