Renal Neoplasms With Overlapping Features of Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma and Clear Cell Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma: A Clinicopathologic Study of 37 Cases From a Single Institution.


Dhakal HP, McKenney JK, Khor LY, Reynolds JP, Magi-Galluzzi C, Przybycin CG.


Am J Surg Pathol. 2016 Feb;40(2):141-54. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000000583.



Clear cell papillary renal cell carcinoma (CCPRCC) was recently included in the International Society of Urological Pathology Vancouver Classification of Renal Neoplasia as a subtype of RCC that is morphologically, immunohistochemically, and genetically distinct from both clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC) and papillary renal cell carcinoma. In our clinical practice we have observed tumors with overlapping histologic features of CCPRCC and CCRCC; therefore, our aim was to describe the morphologic, immunohistochemical, and clinical characteristics of these tumors. We examined a large series of consecutive nephrectomies diagnosed as CCRCC and found 37 tumors with morphologic overlap between CCRCC and CCPRCC, identifying 2 patterns. Pattern 1 tumors (N=19) had areas diagnosable as CCRCC admixed with foci having a prominent linear arrangement of nuclei away from the basement membrane imparting a resemblance to CCPRCC; however, other morphologic features commonly seen in CCPRCC (such as branching acini and cystic spaces with papillary tufts) were not typical and, when present, were focal or poorly developed. Pattern 2 (N=18) tumors had 2 discrete areas, one area with an appearance strongly resembling CCPRCC and the other with higher grade nuclei and features diagnosable as CCRCC, sometimes including rhabdoid differentiation, sarcomatoid differentiation, necrosis, and high-stage disease. Four (21%) of the pattern 1 tumors had grade 3 nuclei in the CCRCC-like areas, and 4 were high stage (pT3a). Of the 16 immunostained pattern 1 tumors, all expressed cytokeratin 7 (CK7) at least focally in the CCPRCC-like areas, strongly and diffusely in 9 (56%) cases; 12 (75%) showed negative to focal and/or weak CK7 expression in the CCRCC-like areas. CD10, α-methylacyl-CoA-racemase, high-molecular-weight cytokeratin, and carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) had no significant differential expression between these foci. No cup-like staining pattern was seen with CA IX. Two (11%) patients with pattern 1 tumors developed metastases, and 1 (5%) subsequently died of disease. Eleven (61%) pattern 2 cases had the International Society of Urological Pathology grade 3 nuclei in the CCRCC-like areas, and 7 (39%) were grade 4 (4 of these cases had rhabdoid features; 1 was also sarcomatoid).

Of the 16 immunostained pattern 2 tumors, 8 (50%) showed strong diffuse CK7 expression in the CCPRCC-like areas, and 9 (56%) showed complete lack of CK7 expression in the CCRCC-like areas. CD10, α-methylacyl-CoA-racemase, and high-molecular-weight cytokeratin did not have significant differential expression. Membranous expression of CA IX, typically strong and diffuse, was identified in both the CCPRCC-like and CCRCC-like areas in all cases tested (with a cup-like pattern at least focally in the CCPRCC-like areas of 10 [63%] pattern 2 cases). Five (28%) patients with pattern 2 tumors had distant metastases, 3 (17%) of whom subsequently died of disease. Renal cell carcinomas with areas resembling both CCRCC and CCPRCC occur. Some can have high-grade and high-stage foci, and aggressive clinical outcomes are seen. Given this malignant potential, we would presently diagnose such cases as CCRCC. These 2 patterns of renal neoplasia underscore the need for caution in diagnosing CCPRCC on limited sampling, reserving the diagnosis for those tumors that strictly fulfill both morphologic and immunohistochemical criteria.