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Cystic Features in Renal Epithelial Neoplasms and Their Increasing Clinical and Pathologic Significance.

Most cystic renal tumors after resection (Boniak IIF to IV cysts) have an indolent course despite the significantly higher proportion of malignant [ie, renal cell carcinoma (RCC)] diagnosis. Most cystic renal tumors have clear cell histology that include cystic clear cell RCC and multilocular cystic renal neoplasm of low malignant potential (MCNLMP). There is growing evidence to suggest that MCNLMP, cystic clear cell RCC, and noncystic clear cell RCC form a cystic-to-solid biological spectrum with MCNLMP representing the most indolent form and with cystic clear cell RCC behaving better than noncystic (solid) clear cell RCC. Extensively (>75%) cystic clear cell RCC also has an excellent outcome similar to MCNLMP stressing the need to reevaluate the histologic criteria that separate these 2 cystic clear cell tumors. Other tumors with clear cells that can be extensively cystic such as the recently reclassified noncancerous clear cell papillary renal tumor and the newly described MED15::TFE3 RCC also have indolent course and may mimic MCNLMP. Cystic features occur also in renal tumors with nonclear cell histology including tumors capable of metastasis such as acquired cystic disease-associated, tubulocystic, fumarate hydratase-deficient, and eosinophilic solid and cystic RCCs. Cystic imaging presentation of some renal tumors such as papillary RCC can be attributed in part to pseudocystic necrosis and hemorrhage. It is important to know that tubulocystic RCC may have a lower Bosniak class presentation that overlaps with benign renal cysts (Bosniak I to IIF) that are managed conservatively. This review highlights the cystic renal tumors with clear cell and nonclear cell morphologies including some novel RCC subtypes that may have cystic features. The presence of cystic features and their extent may aid in the classification and prognostication of renal neoplasms underscoring its increasing importance in the pathologic diagnosis and reporting of renal neoplasia.

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