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J Urol. 2011 Dec;186(6):2168-74. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2011.07.068. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

The chromophobe tumor grading system is the preferred grading scheme for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma.

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Institute of Urologic Oncology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.



The prognostic usefulness of the Fuhrman nuclear grading system has been questioned for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma due to its frequent nuclear and nucleolar pleomorphism. Chromophobe tumor grade, a novel 3-tier tumor grading system based on geographic nuclear crowding and anaplasia, was recently reported to be superior to the Fuhrman system. We compared the 2 scoring systems in a large sporadic chromophobe renal cell carcinoma cohort to determine which grading scheme provides the most predictive assessment of clinical risk.


We identified a total of 84 cases of sporadic chromophobe renal cell carcinoma in 82 patients from a total of 2,634 cases (3.2%) spanning 1989 to 2010. A subset of 11 tumors had secondary areas of sarcomatoid transformation. All cases were reviewed for Fuhrman nuclear grade and chromophobe tumor grade according to published parameters by an expert genitourinary pathologist blinded to clinicopathological information.


The distribution of Fuhrman nuclear grades 1 to 4 was 0%, 52.4%, 32.9% and 14.7% of cases, and the distribution of chromophobe tumor grades 1 to 3 was 48.8%, 36.5% and 14.7%, respectively. Metastasis developed in 20 patients (24.4%). Survival analysis revealed statistically significant differences in recurrence-free survival when adjusted for chromophobe tumor grade and Fuhrman nuclear grade. Chromophobe tumor grade showed a slightly higher AUC for recurrence-free survival and overall survival than the Fuhrman nuclear grading system. Neither chromophobe tumor grade nor Fuhrman nuclear grade was retained as an independent predictor of outcome in multivariate modeling when patients with sarcomatoid lesions were excluded.


Chromophobe tumor grade effectively stratifies patients with chromophobe renal cell carcinoma across all grading levels. Since it does not rely on nuclear features, it avoids the hazard of overestimating the malignant potential of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma. Overall chromophobe tumor grade has higher predictive accuracy than the Fuhrman nuclear grading system.

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