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Dentaljuce Shorts: 500 words, 10 MCQs, on general medicine and surgery.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a type of kidney cancer originating from the proximal convoluted tubule, responsible for approximately 90–95% of kidney cancers in adults. It mainly affects the elderly, particularly men, with a male-to-female ratio of up to 2:1. Initial treatment often involves partial or complete nephrectomy, with a five-year survival rate ranging from 65–90% if the cancer hasn't metastasized.

Micrograph of clear cell renal cell carcinoma
Micrograph of the most common type of renal cell carcinoma (clear cell)—on right of the image; non-tumour kidney is on the left of the image. Nephrectomy specimen. H&E stain

Signs and Symptoms

RCC typically presents late due to its ability to hide symptoms. Classic symptoms include haematuria (blood in urine), flank pain, and abdominal mass, often indicative of advanced disease. Other symptoms may include weight loss, fever, high blood pressure, night sweats, and malaise. Metastasis often occurs in lymph nodes, lungs, liver, adrenal glands, brain, or bones.

Risk Factors


Major risk factors include smoking, obesity, and hypertension, accounting for up to 50% of cases. Occupational exposure to chemicals like asbestos and long-term NSAID use are also suspected risk factors. Conversely, moderate alcohol consumption appears protective.


Hereditary factors play a minor role, with immediate relatives having a two to fourfold increased risk. Conditions like hereditary papillary renal carcinoma and von Hippel–Lindau disease also increase risk. Patients with acquired cystic kidney disease requiring dialysis are 30 times more likely to develop RCC.


RCC originates from the proximal renal tubular epithelium and is an adenocarcinoma. Both sporadic and hereditary subtypes are linked to mutations in chromosome 3, impacting tumour suppressor genes (VHL, TSC) or oncogenes (c-Met).


Diagnosis involves evaluating signs and symptoms, medical history, and biochemical tests. Imaging tools like ultrasound, CT scanning, and MRI are very important for detecting RCC.


RCC is classified into several histological subtypes:

  • Clear Cell RCC (CCRCC): 60–70%, linked to chromosome 3p alterations.
  • Papillary RCC (PRCC): 10–15%, linked to trisomy of chromosomes 7 and 17.
  • Chromophobe RCC (ChRCC): 3–5%, linked to loss of chromosomes Y, 1, 2, etc.
Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma
Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma: Generally the cells have a clear cytoplasm.
Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma
Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma: Type 1 PRCC consist of papillae covered with small cuboid cells.
Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma
Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma: ChRCC consists of tumour cells with well-demarcated borders.



Surgical options include partial nephrectomy for small tumours and radical nephrectomy for larger or more complex tumours. Surgery is often laparoscopic, reducing recovery time.

Large Left Renal Tumour
Left renal tumour with inferior vena cava thrombus into the right atrium.

Percutaneous Ablative Therapies

Techniques like radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation are used for localised tumours, especially in non-surgical candidates.

Targeted Drugs

Medications such as sunitinib, axitinib, and nivolumab target cancer growth factors or enhance the immune response.


Prognosis depends on tumour size, stage, and histological type. The five-year survival rate for localised RCC is 81%, decreasing significantly with metastasis. Early detection improves outcomes, with incidentally diagnosed RCC having better prognosis compared to symptomatic cases.

Histopathologic types of kidney tumour
Histopathologic types of kidney tumour, with relative incidences and prognoses, including renal cell carcinoma and its subtypes.


The understanding of RCC has evolved significantly since the first reference in 1613. The classification and pathogenesis were subjects of debate, with the term "renal cell carcinoma" eventually becoming widely accepted, emphasising its origin from renal tubular cells.

Self-assessment MCQs (single best answer)

What percentage of kidney cancers in adults is accounted for by Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)?

Which gender is more commonly affected by RCC?

What is the initial treatment often involved in RCC?

Which symptom is not typically associated with RCC?

Which of the following is a major lifestyle risk factor for RCC?

Which histological subtype of RCC is the most common?

What genetic condition is associated with an increased risk of RCC?

Which imaging tool is not commonly used for diagnosing RCC?

What is the five-year survival rate for localised RCC?

Which targeted drug is used in the treatment of RCC?


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