What is the pathophysiology of renal transitional cell carcinoma?

Updated: Nov 05, 2019
  • Author: Bagi RP Jana, MD, MBA, MHA, FACP; Chief Editor: E Jason Abel, MD  more...
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TCC accounts for more than 90% of renal pelvic tumors; other cancer types seen include squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarcinoma. The predominant histologic pattern of UC is a papillary tumor with stratified, nonkeratinizing epithelium supported on a thin fibrovascular core.

TCC of the upper urinary tract is histologically identical to urinary bladder cancer. These 2 malignancies share the same risk factors and can occur as a part of “field cancerization,” which results from exposure of urothelium to carcinogens excreted or activated in the urine. Hence, upper urinary tract urothelial tumors may be multifocal, and in 2-10% of cases, they are bilateral as well.

Patients with upper urinary tract urothelial tumors are at risk for the development of bladder tumors, which have an estimated incidence of 20-48%. Bladder cancer usually appears within 5 years. Patients with primary bladder cancer develop upper urinary tract UC in 2-4% of cases. The frequency of upper urinary tract UC may reach 21% in patients with bladder carcinoma in situ (CIS) and in those with certain occupational exposures.

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