Renal oncocytoma: a clinicopathologic study of 70 cases

Am J Surg Pathol. 1997 Aug;21(8):871-83. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199708000-00001.


We reviewed 954 primary nonurothelial epithelial renal neoplasms with primary resection at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center between the years 1980 and 1995 and classified 70 cases (7%) as renal oncocytomas. The study population was composed of 39 men and 31 women, and the mean age was 65 years (range 25 to 86 years). Fifty-six patients (80%) were asymptomatic at presentation, six (4%) had flank pain, six (4%) presented with a mass, and two (3%) had hematuria. Sixty-one were treated with total or radical nephrectomy, nine with partial nephrectomy. The right kidney was involved in 35 cases (50%), the left kidney in 32 (46%). Three cases (4%) were bilateral. Sixty-one cases (87%) were unifocal, nine (13%) multifocal. All the tumors were well circumscribed but unencapsulated. Forty-five (64%) were described as brown or red, whereas the remainder were variously described as tan to yellow. Central fibrosis or scar was described in 23 cases (33%), and gross areas of hemorrhage or cystic changes in 14 (20%). The mean size was 5.2 cm and median 5.0 cm (range 1.5 cm to 14 cm). Histologically, the tumors were characterized by a mixture of architectural patterns: compact cellular nests and acini embedded in a hyalinized, hypocellular stroma were present in 62 cases (89%), a solid nested architecture in 47 cases (67%), and a variable tubular component in 50 cases (71%). Small papillae, pseudopapillae, and intratubular epithelial tufts were seen in 19 cases (27%). Cytologically, the neoplasms also showed a mixture of cell types, the most common being the classic oncocyte, which consisted of round or polygonal cells with moderate to abundant granular, eosinophilic cytoplasm, and small round nuclei with evenly dispersed granular chromatin. Small basophilic nucleoli were visible in many of these cells in all cases. Thirty-one cases (44%) had a variable number of oncocytic cells with pyknotic nuclei and 20 (30%) contained clusters of small cells with a high nuclear/cytoplasmic ratio and dense hyperchromatic nuclei (so-called oncoblasts). Foci of tubules with clear cells embedded in a hyalinized stroma were present in six cases (9%). Cellular atypia was evident in 42 cases (60%) and was marked in 21 (30%). Eleven cases (16%) exhibited mitotic activity, albeit low. No case had atypical mitoses or necrosis. Twenty-two cases (31%) had areas of calcification within the hyalinized stroma, 12 (17%) had calcospherites, and three (4%) had osseous and myeloid metaplasia. Vascular invasion was present in three cases (4%), and invasion of perinephric fat in 14 (20%). One patient presented with liver metastasis. Fourteen cases (20%) were pT1, 42 (60%) pT2, and 14 (20%) pT3. After a mean follow-up of 58 months (range 1 to 181), 62 patients (89%) were alive with no evidence of tumor, six (9%) had died of other causes, one was alive with stable metastatic disease in the liver 58 months after diagnosis, and one died with metastatic disease to bone and liver. We conclude that renal oncocytomas have a varied morphologic appearance and their pathologic diagnosis should be based on a constellation of architectural and cytologic features. The overwhelming majority of cases behave in a benign fashion, although in rare instances they can metastasize. The presence of atypical morphologic features do not alter the excellent prognosis associated with oncocytomas and do not predict an aggressive clinical course.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / mortality
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / pathology*
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Nephrectomy
  • Prognosis
  • Time Factors