Objectives: Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are uncommon tumors that exhibit a wide range of neuroendocrine differentiation and biological behavior. Primary NETs of the kidney, including carcinoid tumor, small cell carcinoma (SCC), and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) are exceedingly rare.
Materials and methods: The clinicopathologic features of renal NETs diagnosed at a single institution were reviewed along with all reported cases in the worldwide literature.
Results: Eighty renal NETs have been described, including nine from our institution. Differentiation between renal NETs and the more common renal neoplasms (renal cell carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma) can be difficult since clinical, radiographic, and histopathologic features overlap. Immunohistochemical staining for neuroendocrine markers, such as synaptophysin and chromogranin, can be particularly helpful in this regard. Renal carcinoids are typically slow-growing, may secrete hormones, and pursue a variable clinical course. In contrast, SCC and LCNEC often present with locally advanced or metastatic disease and carry a poor prognosis. Nephrectomy can be curative for clinically localized NETs, but multimodality treatment is indicated for advanced disease.
Conclusions: A spectrum of NETs can rarely occur in the kidney. Renal carcinoids have a variable clinical course; SCC and LCNEC are associated with poor clinical outcomes. Diagnosis of NETs, especially LCNEC, requires awareness of their rare occurrence and prudent use of immunohistochemical neuroendocrine markers.
Keywords: Carcinoid tumor; kidney neoplasm; large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma; metastasis; neuroendocrine tumor; small cell carcinoma.