Synchronous renal and adrenal masses: an analysis of 80 cases

Ann Diagn Pathol. 2009 Feb;13(1):9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Sep 5.


Synchronous renal and adrenal masses are uncommon. Although adrenal masses in the context of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) are often suspected as metastasis, other adrenal lesions with different therapeutic and prognostic implications may coexist with RCC. In a retrospective review of 550 radical nephrectomies with ipsilateral adrenalectomy, 80 cases of coexisting renal and adrenal masses were identified. The renal masses included 76 RCCs, 3 oncocytomas, and 1 malignant pheochromocytoma of adrenal gland involving the kidney. Although the gross pathologic impression of adrenal masses in the presence of RCC was metastasis, on histologic examination, 56% of them were found to be benign lesions (mostly adrenal adenoma/hyperplasia), whereas malignant involvement from RCC was seen in 43%. The benign and malignant nature of the adrenal lesions in the context of RCC could not be discriminated based on the size of adrenal mass. Because of the prognostic implication of direct or metastatic involvement of adrenal gland in the setting of RCC and the possibility of finding small metastatic foci, a meticulous gross and microscopic examination of adrenal glands is emphasized. Rare unusual combinations of renal and adrenal lesions such as RCC and adrenal histoplasmosis, RCC and adrenal myelolipoma, renal oncocytoma, and adrenal pheochromocytoma are also described.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / pathology
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / surgery
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / secondary
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Adrenal Glands / pathology*
  • Adrenal Glands / surgery
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney / surgery
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nephrectomy
  • Pheochromocytoma / pathology
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies