Kidney: Papillary adenoma

2016-11-01   Laurie J Eisengart , Ximing J Yang 

1.Department of Pathology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA
2.Department of Pathology, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston, MA.



Papillary adenomas are benign renal tumors that are, based on the 2016 WHO classification of renal tumors, low grade papillary neoplasms that are 15mm or fewer in diameter (Moch et al., 2016). This defining size for papillary adenoma was increased from 5mm in the prior WHO classification as metastases from these tumors are not observed in lesions that are ≤15mm.


Review on Renal papillary adenoma, with data on clinics, and the genes involved.

Clinics and Pathology


Papillary adenomas are common. They have been reported in 7% of nephrectomy specimens and 10-40% of autopsy kidneys. In autopsy series, the lesions are more common in older patients (10% of patients 70 years) and in patients with end stage kidney disease. Papillary adenomas may be found more frequently in resected kidneys with papillary renal cell carcinoma, and in patients with hereditary RCC, renal vascular disease, end-stage renal disease or acquired cystic kidney disease.


Most renal papillary adenomas are discovered incidentally at nephrectomy for another disease. However, with better imaging more tumors may be identified preoperatively. Multiple, bilateral papillary adenomas are referred to as renal adenomatosis.


The current World Health Organization (WHO) classification of kidney tumors defines renal papillary adenomas as unencapsulated epithelial tumors lesions with a tubulo-papillary architecture measuring ≤ 15mm and of low nuclear grade (Eble et al., 2016). The tumors morphologically resemble PRCC with papillary to tubulopapillary architecture and CK7 expression. By definition, cytologic aypia and necrosis are absent (Fig. 1).
Atlas Image
Figure 1: Histologically, papillary adenomas resemble low grade papillary RCC, but are < 15 mm in greatest dimension.


Although very little is typically done for small renal masses


It has been proposed that renal papillary adenomas are precursor lesions of papillary renal cell carcinoma. In addition to the epidemiologic association with PRCC (see above), papillary adenomas and PRCC show similar immunohistochemical expression of alpha-methylacyl-coenzyme A racemase ( AMACR ). Interestingly, papillary adenomas arising in the setting of acquired polycystic kidney disease do not show AMACR expression, suggesting a different biological mechanism for these neoplasms.


Excellent for this benign lesion. Renal papillary adenomas theoretically have no metastatic potential.



Trisomy 7 and 17, and loss of the Y chromosome are common changes in papillary adenomas.There are no definitive cytogenetic differences between the small tumors classified as adenomas and PRCC.


Pubmed IDLast YearTitleAuthors
120706002002Numerical chromosomal aberrations in papillary renal cortical tumors: relationship with histopathologic features.Henke RP et al
152043762004Chromosomal gains and losses detected by comparative genomic hybridization and proliferation activity in renal cell carcinoma.Kallio JP et al
19585901991Cytogenetics of papillary renal cell tumors.Kovacs G et al
124076972002Renal cancer: cytogenetic and molecular genetic aspects.Meloni-Ehrig AM et al
85487681996Genetic aberrations detected by comparative genomic hybridization are associated with clinical outcome in renal cell carcinoma.Moch H et al
123774132002Analysis of kidney tumors by comparative genomic hybridization and conventional cytogenetics.Rigola MA et al
187966652008Management of the incidental renal mass.Silverman SG et al
170560942007Renal papillary adenoma--a putative precursor of papillary renal cell carcinoma.Wang KL et al


Laurie J Eisengart ; Ximing J Yang

Kidney: Papillary adenoma

Atlas Genet Cytogenet Oncol Haematol. 2016-11-01

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Historical Card

0000-00-00 Kidney: Papillary adenoma by  Kelsey McIntyre,Michelle S. Hirsch 

Department of Pathology, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston, MA.