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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 Jul;2(4):750-6. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Renal cell carcinoma in transplant recipients with acquired cystic kidney disease.

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Department of Nephrology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.



Acquired cystic kidney disease (ACKD) is a widely known renal cell carcinoma risk factor.


An ultrasound screening of the native kidneys in all renal transplant patients of a renal outpatient clinic who received a transplant between 1970 and 1998 and presented between 1997 and 2003 (n = 916) was initiated prospectively. A total of 561 patients were screened.


A total of 129 (23%) patients had ACKD; 46 (8.2%) patients had complex renal cysts (Bosniak classification, category IIF to III); and eight (1.5%) patients had newly diagnosed renal cell carcinoma, seven of which were associated with ACKD (category IV). One patient had renal cell carcinoma in the transplanted kidney. Together with 19 patients of the cohort with formerly diagnosed renal cell carcinoma (18 of them associated with ACKD), the prevalence of renal cell carcinoma among all patients was 4.8%; among the patients with ACKD, it was 19.4% (without ACKD 0.5%; P = 0.0001); and among the patients with complex renal cysts (category IIF to III), it was 54.4%. The patients with ACKD were older (54 +/- 13 versus 51 +/- 14 yr; P = 0.048), more often male (65 versus 54%; P = 0.03), more often had heart disease (44 versus 29%; P = 0.001), had larger kidneys (6.9 and 6.8 cm versus 6.0 and 5.9 cm; P < 0.001), and had more calcifications (29 versus 15%; P = 0.002). Renal cell carcinoma was bilateral in 26% of cases. Tumor histology was clear cell carcinoma in 58% and papillary carcinoma in 42% of cases; one patient had both. Only one patient had a lung metastasis, and no patient died.


Renal cell carcinoma occurs often after renal transplantation and that especially patients with ACKD should routinely be screened. Because ACKD after renal transplantation seems to be less frequent (23%) than during dialysis treatment (30 to 90%), renal transplantation may inhibit renal cell carcinoma.

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