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Accuracy of renal tumour biopsy for the diagnosis and subtyping of papillary renal cell carcinoma: analysis of paired biopsy and nephrectomy specimens with focus on discordant cases

Abstract

Aims Renal tumour biopsy (RTB) is increasingly recognised as a useful diagnostic tool in the management of small renal masses, particularly those that are incidentally found. Intratumoural heterogeneity with respect to morphology, grade and molecular features represents a frequently identified limitation to the use of RTB. While previous studies have evaluated pathological correlation between RTB and nephrectomy, no studies to date have focused specifically on the role of RTB for the diagnosis of papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC) and its further subclassification into clinically relevant subtypes.

Methods This single-institution study evaluated 60 cases of PRCC for concordance between RTB and nephrectomy with respect to diagnosis, grading and subtyping (type 1/type 2).

Results We observed 93% concordance (55 of 59 evaluable cases) between RTB and nephrectomy for the diagnosis of PRCC, although seven tumours (12%) were undergraded on RTB. Subtyping of PRCC on RTB was concordant with nephrectomy in 89% of cases reported as type 1 PRCC on RTB (31/35), but only 40% of cases reported as type 2 PRCC on RTB (4/10). Morphological misclassification of PRCC on RTB was most likely to occur in tumours showing a solid growth pattern. Discordant PRCC subtyping most often occurred in tumours with eosinophilia/oncocytic change.

Conclusion There was good concordance between RTB and nephrectomy for the primary diagnosis of PRCC. Although further subtyping of PRCC can aid therapeutic stratification, this can be challenging on RTB and tumours with overlapping or ambiguous features are best reported as PRCC not otherwise specified pending development of more robust methods to facilitate definitive subclassification.

  • kidney
  • renal cancer
  • uropathology
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