Renal cell carcinomas in children and young adults: Increased incidence of papillary architecture and unique subtypes

Andrew A. Renshaw, Scott R. Granter, Jonathan A. Fletcher, Harry P. Kozakewich, Christopher L. Corless, Antonio R. Perez-Atayde

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102 Scopus citations


Renal cell carcinomas in children and young adults are rare, and the pathologic features of these tumors have not been well described. We reviewed 24 renal cell carcinomas in children and young adults ages 6 to 29 years, 14 of whom were younger than 18 years of age. Fourteen were female. In 19 (79%) of 24 cases, the tumor met histologic criteria for papillary renal cell carcinoma, with at least 50% papillary architecture. Four of the remaining five cases were typical clear cell tumors in patients known to have von Hippel Lindau syndrome, and one case was of chromophobe type. In the papillary tumors, calcifications, high nuclear grade, extracapsular extension (American Joint Commission on Cancer stage T3), and lymph node metastases were common. Among these papillary tumors, four distinct histologic patterns could be identified. Collecting duct-like tumors (two cases) involved the large collecting ducts, were multifocal and predominantly papillary, and had focal tubular and solid areas. These tumors were reactive for epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) and keratins, including CK7, but negative for Ulex europeaus and high molecular weight keratin 34BE12. Voluminous cell tumors (four cases) were composed of cells with extremely voluminous clear cytoplasm and, although predominantly papillary, had areas that also resembled clear cell tumors. These tumors were reactive for keratins AE1/AE3 but were otherwise negative for all other keratins, EMA, and U. europeaus. One of these tumors showed an X;7 translocation. Adult type tumors (12 cases) resembled papillary tumors of adults. These tumors were reactive for EMA and keratins, including CK7, and all but one were negative for U. europeaus and keratin 34BE12. This last case had trisomies of chromosomes 7, 16, 17, and 20. The final neuroendocrinelike case was multifocal, organoid, and composed of nests of small cells in a neuroendocrinelike pattern. Three of 13 patients were alive with disease at last follow-up, and three additional patients died of disease, all within 2 years. Progression was highly associated with lymph node involvement at the time of resection. We conclude that the clinicopathologic features of renal cell carcinomas in children and young adults differ from those arising in older adults. These tumors are characteristically high-grade, high-stage, papillary tumors with numerous calcifications, and several subtypes can be identified based on histologic, immunohistochemical, and cytogenetic features. Some subtypes appear to be unique to this age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-802
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1999


  • Children
  • Kidney
  • Pediatrics
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Renal neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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