Renal cell carcinoma in kidney allografts: histologic types, including biphasic papillary carcinoma

Hum Pathol. 2016 Nov:57:28-36. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2016.06.018. Epub 2016 Jul 7.


Kidney transplant recipients are at increased risk for malignancy, with about 5% incidence of cancer in native end-stage kidneys. Carcinoma in the renal allograft is far less common. Prior studies have demonstrated a propensity for renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) of papillary subtypes in end-stage kidneys, and perhaps in allograft kidneys, but most allograft studies lack detailed pathologic review and predate the current classification system. We reviewed our experience with renal carcinoma in kidney allografts at 2 academic centers applying the International Society of Urological Pathology classification, informed by immunohistochemistry. The incidence of renal allograft carcinoma was about 0.26% in our population. Of 12 allograft carcinomas, 6 were papillary (50%), 4 were clear cell (33%), 1 was clear cell (tubulo)papillary, and 1 chromophobe. Two of the papillary carcinomas had distinctive biphasic glomeruloid architecture matching the newly named "biphasic squamoid alveolar" pattern and were difficult to classify on core biopsies. The 2 cell types had different immunophenotypes in our hands (eosinophilic cells: RCC-/CK34betaE12+ weight keratin +/cyclin D1+; clear cells: RCC+/cytokeratin high molecular weight negative to weak/cyclin D1-). None of the patients experienced cancer recurrences or metastasis. Our study confirms the predilection for papillary RCCs in kidney allografts and highlights the occurrence of rare morphologic variants. Larger studies are needed with careful pathologic review, which has been lacking in the literature.

Keywords: Biphasic squamoid alveolar carcinoma; Clear cell (tubulo) papillary carcinoma; Papillary renal cell carcinoma; Renal allograft; Renal cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allografts
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biopsy, Large-Core Needle
  • California / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Kidney Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrectomy
  • Oregon / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor