Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma syndrome-associated renal cell carcinoma: Morphological appraisal with a comprehensive review of differential diagnoses

Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2020 Feb;63(Supplement):S7-S17. doi: 10.4103/IJPM.IJPM_877_19.


Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC) is an autosomal dominant syndrome wherein affected individuals are at risk for the development of cutaneous leiomyomas, early-onset multiple uterine leiomyomas, and an aggressive subtype of renal cell cancer. HLRCC is caused by germline mutations in the fumarate hydratase (FH) gene, which inactivates the enzyme and alters the function of the tricarboxylic acid/Krebs cycle. This article reviews the hitherto described morphologic features of HLRCC-associated renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and outlines the differential diagnosis and ancillary use of immunohistochemistry and molecular diagnostics for these tumors. The morphologic spectrum of HLRCC-associated RCC is wide and histologic features, including tumor cells with prominent nucleoli, perinucleolar halos, and multiple architectural patterns within the same tumor, which are suggestive of this diagnosis. FH immunohistochemistry in conjunction with genetic counseling and germline FH testing are the important parameters for detection of this entity. These kidney tumors warrant prompt treatment as even smaller sized lesions can demonstrate aggressive behavior and systemic oncologic treatment in metastatic disease should, if possible, be part of a clinical trial. Screening procedures in HLRCC families should preferably be evaluated in large cohorts.

Keywords: Collecting duct carcinoma; Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma; fumarate hydratase; papillary type 2 renal cancer; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fumarate Hydratase / genetics
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Leiomyomatosis / diagnosis*
  • Leiomyomatosis / physiopathology
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / diagnosis*
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / physiopathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / physiopathology


  • Fumarate Hydratase

Supplementary concepts

  • Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer