Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma syndrome associated uterine smooth muscle tumors: Bridging morphology and clinical screening

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2021 Mar;60(3):210-216. doi: 10.1002/gcc.22905. Epub 2020 Nov 18.


Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC) is an autosomal dominant familial syndrome that results from germline mutation in the fumarate hydratase (FH) gene and is associated with an increased risk for smooth muscle tumors of the uterus and skin and renal cell carcinoma. HLRCC associated RCC develop in up to 25% of patients, often presenting in the fourth decade and are high stage, aggressive tumors with poor clinical outcome. Most women with HLRCC develop large and bulky uterine smooth muscle tumors (USMT) in the second to third decade, thus presenting the ideal opportunity for early detection of HLCC to enable timely implementation of surveillance for their RCC risk. However, the concept of screening women with USMT for HLRCC is challenging given that HLRCC is rare but USMT are common. In addition, FH deficiency in USMT can also result from sporadic FH gene aberrations, unrelated to HLRCC, further complicating any potential screening process. Recent studies show that tumor morphology can be used to identify FH deficiency in USMT and thereby direct patients to formal genetic counseling. The low magnification clues of staghorn shaped blood vessels and alveolar pattern should prompt for high magnification examination for eosinophilic cytoplasmic inclusions and oval nuclei containing prominent eosinophilic macronucleoli surrounded by a halo. Additional clues include Schwannoma-like growth and chain-like distribution of the tumor cells. Although immunostains exist for FH and 2SC, their role is limited in the presence of well-developed FH deficient morphology. The prevalence of germline pathogenic mutation in FH among women with USMT with FH deficient morphology is as high as 50% in some studies, with somatic FH mutation accounting for the remainder. Therefore, morphologic evaluation of USMT for features of FH deficiency can serve as a screening tool for HLRCC syndrome by triaging patients to formal hereditary risk assessment.

Keywords: FH deficiency; HLRCC; uterine smooth muscle tumors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Leiomyomatosis / genetics*
  • Leiomyomatosis / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Connective and Soft Tissue / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / diagnosis
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / genetics*
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / metabolism
  • Smooth Muscle Tumor / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer