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Ann Surg Oncol. 1997 Oct-Nov;4(7):570-4.

Pathologic findings at the time of nephrectomy for renal mass.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Ultrasound (US) and computed tomography (CT) have improved the diagnosis of solid renal masses. Nevertheless, some patients still undergo exploration for a presumptive diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and are found to have other pathology. We report a contemporary series of non-RCC renal masses (both incidental and symptomatic) among nephrectomies performed for suspected RCC.


All nephrectomies performed by the Urology Service at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from July of 1989 through July of 1996 for a parenchymal renal mass were reviewed, and patients without a final diagnosis of RCC were identified. Cases were excluded if RCC was not suspected preoperatively. Presentation, preoperative radiographic evaluation, type of operation, and pathologic features were assessed.


Of the 636 nephrectomies performed, 108 patients (16.9%) had a diagnosis other than RCC.


Of patients undergoing nephrectomy for renal masses, 16.9% have other pathologic diagnoses. Sixty-six percent of these non-RCC masses are discovered incidentally, and the majority are treated with radical nephrectomy. Preoperative radiographic evaluation reflects both clinical presentation, with IVP used to evaluate symptomatic tumors, and diagnostic uncertainty, with multiple modalities used to evaluate cystic lesions. This information has important implications for preoperative counseling and surgical planning.

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